Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)

Release Date: January 28, 2014
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 346 pages

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.



Protagonist: At the beginning of this book Nyx is a young woman filled to the brim with resentment. She resents that her father chose her to be the one to marry the dark lord who rules her realm, and she resents that her sister doesn't realize the sacrifice that she's making. There were only a handful of times that Nyx's character really annoyed me and those were really only near the beginning of the story. Consistently throughout the story I really enjoyed Nyx's character. She's realistic and never truly tries to act innocent or pure. In fact, she embraces her flaws and uses her bitterness and cruelty to fuel her mission.

Romance: With this being a fairy tale retelling there's a good deal of romance, but it really comes second to the intense plot. However, the romance itself is very compelling. There is a love triangle, but with this being at the very most the first in a companion novel series it's not drawn out and doesn't get too ridiculous. The two suitors, Ignifex and Shade, both hold secrets and are fairly evenly matched through a good portion of the story. I had even changed my mind about who I was rooting for at least twice if not more. While I'll try to avoid spoilers I will say that the chemistry between Nyx and one of her suitors is off the charts intense. It was just beautiful to read.

World-Building: While on the surface this story seems to be another Beauty and the Beast retelling deep down it's so much more. In addition to the Beauty and the Best fairy tale (my personal favorite fairy tale fyi) there are also elements of both Rumpelstiltskin and Blue Beard woven through and best of all is the inclusion of Greek mythology. Now, really the only time I was confused while reading this book had to do with where this story takes place. I'm still a bit confused as to if this takes place in a fantasy world that pulls from Greek and Roman cultures and myths, or if it takes place in an alternative version of our earth. While that fact isn't really important to the plot, but it was something that really bugged me at the beginning of the story, but really faded into oblivion for practically the entire story.

Predictability: I do have to say that this book left me fairly shocked thought reading it. There may have been a time or two that I guessed what was about to happen, but even my most crackpot theories, some which were actually true, barely even scratched the surface of what truly lay beyond these pages.

Ending: The end of this book was different from almost any I had ever read. It tied the book together so well, and while the more supernatural or mythological circumstances at the very end were a tad bit confusion in the grand scheme of things it's nothing. Hopefully we'll get more than just the companion, Cinderella inspired, novella coming in April, because I need more of my favorite fairy tales to be mixed mythology.


As I suspected and hoped, this mix of my all time favorite fairy tale and Greek mythology (a passion of mine) was phenomenal. I need more in this universe though, we'll get Gilded Ashes in April, but I would love to see the Little Mermaid, Snow White, or even Rapunzel reinterpreted with mythology, it wouldn't even have to be Greek mythology, Norse or Egyptian would also suffice. P.S. If you couldn't tell this has become my favorite fairy tale interpretation of all time (including my all time favorite show Once Upon a Time.)



  1. YAY!! So glad you liked this one. It was definitely different and some people didn't like it b/c of that. I have to say that I didn't see the Beauty and The Beast connection as much as I thought there would be. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad of this b/c I like that she took it in a different direction. Actually, I even felt a little Phantom of the Opera in there, which I guess is sort of Beauty and The Beast. Gilded Ashes is a Cinderella retelling! Have you read Indelible by Dawn Metcalf? If not, I think you should give that one a try. If you liked this you will most likely like that one!

  2. I have been wanting to read this book for a while now (and I definitely need to move it up on my TBR list!) I love Beauty and the Beast plus a kickass killer protagonist and Greek Mythology too!?! *dies* I need this book! (Also Once Upon a Time is the best thing ever!)