Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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?
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.
First Sentence: I was raised to marry a monster.
Cruel Beauty is a book I’ve seen people either deeply love or deeply hate. I’ve seen people gosh all over it and give Cruel Beauty a full five stars, or be confused on how they feel about it and give it three stars, or even dislike Cruel Beauty and rate it one and two stars. I’ll say I’m between the Cruel Beauty is okay and uhh, I didn’t really enjoy the book side – which is why I’m giving Cruel Beauty a rating of two stars.
I can sum up what I was feeling while reading Cruel Beauty in pretty much two simple words: Kelly confused. Yep, that’s it. The mythology part of Cruel Beauty confused me, the characters and their actions confused me, and a bit of the world-building in Cruel Beauty confused me. The important question is, where did it go all went wrong?
“I just wanted to say…I believe you can do it. I believe you will cut off his head and come home to us.” (30)
Usually, I love reading books with mythology in it. As soon as I learned that a book I haven’t read before has mythology in it, the book is automatically going on my auto-read list. I’ve also read a lot of books with some form of mythology in it and I’m sad to say that Cruel Beauty is the most confusing mythology book I’ve ever read. There were so many weird names, so many terms, so many mini-mythology stories, so many everything to keep track of that I was just confused. You know it’s a really bad thing when you start to get confused when you’ve only read the second mythology snippet introduced in the book (and there is a lot of mythology involved in Cruel Beauty).
The world-building in Cruel Beauty was done well…from what I can tell anyway. I got the overall gist of it; how the world looks like, how it came to be, who has all the power, etc. but the bit of mythology part added into the mix just confused me. (Yes, you’ll see the word “confused” or “confusing” used a lot in this review.)
I wanted to forget. I wanted so much to think only of Ignifex, to make his house into my home. Most of all, I did not want to remember I was on a mission to avenge my mother and save my world. (246)
Honestly, I just wasn’t confused with only two small parts of the book: the beginning of Cruel Beauty and the ending of Cruel Beauty. The beginning of the book immediately sucked me in and I found myself admiring the writing and thinking of how I will just love the book – until I met the second mythology story. As for the ending of Cruel Beauty, the plot twist introduced was so unique that it was almost impossible to be confused with it (although I am confused with why the plot twist happened the first place). Those two parts of Cruel Beauty were easy to understand; it was just the long middle part of the book that made me ultra confused with almost everything. In fact, I barely remembered anything that had happened in the middle of the book; that’s how confusing it was.
One can argue that one of the most important parts of Beauty and the Beast is the romance and I agree. However, I feel like the romance in Cruel Beauty didn’t live up to the romance in Beauty and the Beast because no matter which way you view it, Nyx and Ignifex’s relationship can be classified as insta-love. Like most other books with insta-love that I’ve read, the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex first starts with oh, he’s so good looking to daydreaming about the love interest’s look, to automatically loving them. The romance in Cruel Beauty didn’t work at all because of the insta-love – I felt like Nyx was planning on sacrificing everything she came to do for a guy she barely knows.
And then I left. Because I had a house to explore, a husband to defeat, and no time at all to waste. (90)
Overall, Cruel Beauty didn’t impress me much. For those of you who are like me, who easily gets confused over multiple background stories with many names and don’t like books with a strong case of insta-love in it, I recommend you skip reading Cruel Beauty altogether. If you really want to read a great Beauty and the Beast retelling, I strongly recommend you try Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty instead.