Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
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.
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers at Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Growing up one of my favorite stories was the story of Beauty and the Beast. I was read the book, I watched the movie, and I dreamed of a grand love that overcame evil and a library filled with every book I could ever want. I had heard some amazing things about certain fairytale retellings and when I learned of one in particular that featured Beauty and the Beast, I was so excited. That book was Cruel Beauty. I was dying to dive into the book and lose myself in a different take on a tale as old as time.
Nyx's story begins when she is preparing to marry the Gentle Lord as her father bargained. In order to fill her father's obligation she was become the wife of the ruler of their lands. A demon some say. An ugly beast of a man with glowing red eyes who will likely kill her the moment she is brought to the disheveled castle she is to live in with him. But the Gentle Lord is not ugly, he does have glowing red eyes, but he is extremely handsome. That does not make up for his monstrous behavior. For all intents and purposes, Nyx knows that even with astounding beauty the Gentle Lord, Ignifex he calls himself, is pure evil.
Nyx spends her days searching for the four elements of the house in order to bring down the Gentle Lord's magically enchanted home and free herself and her people from their confines. As she plots the demise of Ignifex she is forced to get to know him as well. Along the way, she learns that there is more to the demonic man than meets the eye and she may just be able to entertain the idea of falling in love with him.
Eventually Nyx is faced with the ultimate decision: stay with the man she loves and leave her town to their misery or give up her love and free her town for all time.
As I stated before, I was incredibly excited to read this book. And I was surprised how different it was from the classic Beauty and the Beast story. However, it had some fine points to it that rang true in my childhood tale. I loved that it branched out so wide from the foundation of the original concept and made it completely different. No there were no singing teapots or stodgy clocks, but the relationship between Beauty and the Beast was similar to Nyx and Ignifex.
The language was very proper and sometimes a bit hard to understand until it is reread in the accurate inflections. I did listen to part of the book on audiobook which helped a lot, but audiobooks always seem too slow for me. I read faster than they do since I'm not focusing on every word and syllable. That was my only criticism and it isn't even that much of one. I loved the book, proper language and all.
Cruel Beauty is a fantastic retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast that rivets its reader and drags them into a world where the bad guy has depths beyond destroying the hero.