Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Book Trailer: Trailer
Sexual Content: Kissing, implied sexual situations
Reviewed by: Kate
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.(
CRUEL BEAUTY is the fairy tale retelling I didn’t know I was waiting for. Taking the Beauty and the Beast story and turning it upside down, spinning it around and still keeping it recognizable, it was entrancing and mind-blowing. Hodge created a fascinating setting, from what I could tell, an England cut off from the rest of the world, where mythology holds sway and the people worship the Gods of Olympus. Greek mythology played a large part in the story, with frequent references to Pandora, Persephone and other well known and lesser known stories.
Every character in CRUEL BEAUTY has flaws, and that is part of what made it so amazing. Nyx is the opposite of a typical fairy tale heroine- she’s angry, resentful, and at times she’s even cruel. Ignifex is handsome, but he’s a demon lord, ruling over the populace with his bargains, which never work out very well for the person on the other end of the deal. Even Nyx’s sister ends up being different than the reader expects. Nyx finds she can’t trust anybody, but then what do you do when you’re falling in love with the man you’ve been sent to kill? Watching the romance blossom between Nyx and Ignifex is so fascinating, as it is so hard to believe that love could come out of the circumstances, and yet Hodge does exactly that, never giving the reader the chance to doubt the veracity of the emotion.
CRUEL BEAUTY sometimes made my head hurt. It is so much more than a simple curse to be a Beast, there is a story of princes and gods, magic and demons, and the story whisked along at such a pace that I felt breathless the entire time. After reading it in one sitting, I almost feel like I should go back and read it again, take the chance to savor it. It seems to me a perfect little package, just waiting to be opened, full of little secrets I may have missed. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to catch everything the first time around, as CRUEL BEAUTY sometimes had me so twisted up following the intricacies of the story.
CRUEL BEAUTY is one of the most creative takes on Beauty and the Beast that I have ever read (and I’ve read a lot). Definitely worth your time to pick it up and spend a few hours with Nyx and her world. My only complaint is that while CRUEL BEAUTY is an excellent stand alone novel, I wish that I could keep visiting the world Hodge created. Luckily, it looks like we’ll have another chance to peek inside- a novella, GILDED ASHES, will be coming out in April, and I’ve already pre-ordered it.Series Titles:
- Cruel Beauty
- Gilded Ashes (Novella)
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