Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
By: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
|Summary: 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.
Review: So the first part of the “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy” is a bit of a stretch, but who the heck cares. It was beautiful. It was amazing. And it was absolutely wonderful. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
If you think this is your typical adaptation of the classic fairytale, think again. “Cruel Beauty” is a beautifully written masterpiece that tells the amazing tale of duty, love and betrayal, where Hodge has managed to weave in the concepts of ancient kingdoms and haunting shadows and demons with the folklore of traditional and elaborated Greek mythology. It will truly transform the way you’ve always viewed “Beauty and the Beast” with so much more.
One of the reasons why this book was so great was because it didn’t start out with an innocent Cinderella who remains pure-hearted and selfless despite her cruel and unfair situation. While she remained composed, Nyx’s heart was full of built-up anger and resentment – and who could blame her. And I admired how, despite her frightening surroundings, Nyx never put up with any nonsense from Ignifex or anyone else.
You would think that you’d know how the story would go, but this book was far from predictable. Right off the bat, I was thrown into the twist called “Shade,” and it really bugged me (in a good way) that I couldn’t figure it out or couldn’t decide if I could trust.
And that wasn’t the only puzzle. Hodge had masterfully woven in stories that we grew up with – Greek mythology, lesson-teaching tales, anecdotal folklore – giving “Cruel Beauty” so much more meaning. The stories were told at just the right time, truly symbolic of the situation at hand. And what’s more, Hodge dropped hints all throughout the book – some you pick up on and some you don’t – leading us to believe that she took careful planning to this intricate plot she has set forth. And when you figure it out – either way before or when it’s actually presented – you’re left with this sense of awe.
It wasn’t hard to be emotionally wrapped up with the characters in this book. I loved Nyx – her spunky attitude, her wittiness, her desire to do what’s right despite the consequences. And no matter what, I couldn’t hate Ignifex. He had a great mix of cockiness and sincerity. Even Shade and Astraia – I understood their role in the book and sympathized with each and every one of them. So when it came time for Nyx to leave, my heart just broke. And it broke a little more each step of the way.
I can’t tell you the way it ended, but the last few scenes really brought the whole story home. It was then that you learn about everything that you had missed and you realize just how truly how amazing this story was and how perfectly Hodge had set up everything leading up to this moment. It was truly magical.
All in all, I’m sure you can’t possibly tell how much I loved this story from all the gushing I just did. It was truly one of the best books I have read in a while – not only because of the story, but also because of the beautiful way it was written and the intricate details and symbolic anecdotes that Hodge took such great care in weaving into the story. This was a truly a masterpiece, and I am more than eager to read Hodge’s future works.