Thursday, February 06, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray

From Goodreads:
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 was raised to marry a monster.

Nyx Triskelion lives in a world under the dome. Her country, Arcadia, is torn apart from the rest of the world, and the people can no longer see the real sky. It has been nine hundred years, and the people are still captivated in the dome. They are ruled by the Gentle Lord, the demon prince whose demons infest every shadow. The Gentle Lord is a cruel being who loves striking bargain to those foolish enough to bargain with him, and today, Nyx will be married to him.

Seventeen years ago, Nyx’s father struck a bargain with the demon prince, and in return, he has to marry his daughter to the Gentle Lord when she reaches the age of seventeen. Now his daughter Nyx, prepared with her knowledge about Hermetic magic and a blade from her twin sister Astraia, is ready to do anything it takes to kill the gentle lord and save Arcadia. But the task turns out to be more complicated than she thinks as she spends more days with the Gentle Lord and learns the truth that the demon prince might be prisoned too with them inside the dome…

Cruel Beauty captivates me right from the beginning. It is a wonderful debut that will resonate well to fans of dark fairytales. Though I went into the book expecting a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I got glimpses of Blue Beard and Rumpelstiltskin tale as well. Thankfully the Blue Beard elements were not as horrifying as I thought or I would have run away in fear. Nyx is a character I will remember dearly. She is not your usual impossibly kind and ready-to-sacrifice-anything-just-ask type of heroine. On the opposite, she is feisty, impatient, and at times too wrapped up in her own problem to care for others. But aren’t we all sometimes? She has poison in her heart and she’s aware of it. Nyx is a dark and flawed character that is just right for the story. The Gentle Lord or simply called Ignifex is a character I warmed up almost instantly. It is just so cute that he falls asleep on the floor besides Nyx while he is waiting for her to wake up. What can I say, really. I’m weak against those playful and dangerous fictional guys. *cough* Adrian Ivashkov *cough*

I think the ending suits the nature of the story, but I think it can be tweaked a bit. I felt like I was furiously trying to grasp the characters I’ve fallen in love with when I reached the ending. Since I don’t see many people complained about the ending, I might be the odd one on this.

All in all, Cruel Beauty is a wonderful read and I was very happy when I picked up this gem. The book reminds me of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwater’s works with the striking characters, lush setting, and easy-to-follow writing. The banter between Nyx and Ignifex also adds a nice touch to the story. I can hardly wait to read more books from this author. Rosamund Hodge is certainly an author I will put into my to-watch list!

I smashed my fist into his face.

The blow was hard enough that he fell over backward. … As he sat back up, I dropped to my knees. There was only one thing to do. I started to undo the top button of my dress, then simply ripped it open.

“I’m sorry,” I said, staring at the floor. “I just, my father made me promise to bring a knife, and—and—” I stuttered, acutely aware that I was half-naked in front of him. “I’m your wife! I burn for your touch! I thirst for your love!” I didn’t know where the terrible words were coming from, but I couldn’t stop them. “I’ll do anything, I’ll—”

I realized he was laughing.

4 cups of tea!
Wonderful characters and stunning storyline. Love it!


  1. I recognize the cover but honestly had no idea what the book was about until now. I almost never like fairy-tale retellings, yet for some reason I still pick them up =/ Is it just me or are the character names a bit strange? I wonder how you pronounce Ignifex… Anyways, great review Hilda! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts!! =)

  2. OOh nice review! Have been hearing a decent amount of good things on this one and I am so looking forward to reading it soon-ish! Glad to hear it was a good read! Great review, again!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Hilda! I adored it, especially the strong personalities of Nyx and Ignifex. It was such an intriguing romance, one that definitely had me rooting for the couple despite the ambiguity of their morals at times. Lovely review, dear! :)

  4. I'm with you too, I love how Nyx is not your usual kind-hearted princess, because raised in the way she is, how could she not has some hatred or 'poison'?
    I was quite confused about the whole 'dome' and 'pandora box' thingy, but all in all, for a debut book, this is such a wonderful one. :-D

  5. I hadn't heard of this one before but it's definitely the kind of book for me. I'm a bit sick of the selfless all sacrificing heroine and would love to read about a flawed one.


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