TITLE: Cruel Beauty
AUTHOR: Rosamund Hodge
PUBLICATION DATE: January 28, 2014
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 352 pages
RATING: 4 bows
In this fantasy retelling of Beauty & The Beast, Nyx was born with a single purpose, marry the lord who oppresses her people and destroy him. Since birth, she has been in training to fulfill this destiny and on her seventeenth birthday, she goes through with the plan and becomes the lord’s wife. Still resentful of her family for allowing her to be sacrificed, while babying her twin, she is eager to complete this task to prove that she isn’t as useless as her father seems to imagine and he’ll regret never loving her properly. However, Ignifex, the dark lord, is not what she has always envisioned, being charming and even kind to her. Will she finish her destiny or will she fall for this one man who seems to accept her for all the truly is, cruelty and darkness included?
Nyx is so very different from any other YA heroine I’ve read about recently. She is utterly devoted to her cause but harbors such contempt and hatred for her family that it is difficult to keep it all in. She knows that none of what she is being put through is her sisters fault but at the same time cannot help but feel rage at her for never trying to take her place or save her. Does no one love her enough to want to keep her from sacrificing herself for the greater good? Apparently not because no one even hints that there is something wrong with the situation. She holds all the anger and venom inside, but it still occasionally slips out. So once she’s with Ignifex, she feels fine expressing her rage at him because he is, after all, the evil lord, right? He makes deals that bring horrendous consequences and he Sundered the land so there is no longer a sky, just a domed ceiling. But the meaner she is, the more she realizes that maybe there is more than meets the eye. I applauded her for her darker side most of the time, but there were occasions when she was overly cruel to Ignifex and I just wanted to smack her. I get that it’s your destiny to destroy him, but you don’t have to be a bitch after he saves your life!
Ignifex was something else altogether. His logic about the deals he makes was so undeniable. After all, people came to him requesting either horrible or impossible things and he gave them what they wanted, at a price. He was really just a facilitator, a middle man, and it certainly wasn’t his fault that people didn’t always grasp the full cost of what they wanted until it was too late. He’s outwardly handsome and charming, always ready with a witty comeback to whatever Nyx throws at him. He’s really just trying to make the best of his situation.
The other important character here is Shade, a captive of Ignifex…or is he. I can’t really talk about him without getting spoiler-y****SPOILER****I knew from the beginning that he was a part of Ignifex, that they were the same person split in two.****END SPOILER*** I wasn’t really a Shade fan, he always seemed to have his own agenda and it wasn’t always in Nyx’s best interest. ****SPOILER****That part where he almost kills her and we learn that he killed so many of the other wives had me flipping out. How Nyx forgave him is beyond me. I wanted to stay as far from him as possible****END SPOILER****
This has a love triangle, but it’s really a love triangle because…well I can’t really explain, but just trust me, k? It’s a completely fresh take on Beauty & The Beast. It’s a bit confusing on the fantasy elements, but that may just be because I’m not very big on fantasy because their worlds always seem to confusing. I think what really drew me to this was the relationship between Ignifex and Nyx. These two are so similar even though their backgrounds are so different and they truly see each other for who they are. Ignifex seeing past Nyx facade of nice, dutiful daughter, and Nyx seeing beyond The Gentle Lord who oppresses the people to the man behind the mask, so to speak. It one of those epic loves that, in the end, breaks all the rules.
This retelling of my favorite fairy tale had me digging Luna (my kindle) out at every spare moment, even going so far as to read while I waited in line at the bank, just to get a bit more. Hodge has creating a beautiful world that is breathtaking and heartbreaking. It’s a fantasy novel that those who aren’t really fantasy fans can wholly enjoy. I recommend it to anyone with a love of Beauty & The Beast or anyone looking for a story a bit off the beaten path!
****Thank you to Balzar + Bray, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****