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.
◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆
Cruel Beauty is dark, haunting, and beautiful.
Nyx is an independent yet broken girl. Raised from a young age to believe that she's the hope of the kingdom, Nyx has trained to defeat the "Gentle Lord"that rules over them. In the process, she has become bitter and resents her destiny. Nyx's feelings are understandable. I'd go insane if I grew up knowing that my family was preparing to send me to my certain doom for their sake. Nevertheless, she doesn't give up trying to find a way out, be it killing her lord husband or, later, trying to find a way to save them all. Ignifex too is a sympathizable character. From the beginning, he treats Nyx with respect and doesn't seem like the evil lord that the kingdom believes him to be. The mind games that he and Nyx play are such fun.
What really brings this world and characters to life is the detailed imagery. I could feel Nyx's emotions and sympathized with her situation. More powerfully, I could see the scenes playing out. I especially enjoyed exploring Ignifex's house along with her. It's filled with many fascinating rooms, and I never knew what to expect next. I enjoyed unraveling the secrets of his ever-changing house with Nyx and learning the truth about the Sundering. I only wish that we get to learn more about the world and its history. Still, Nyx isn't really in a position to uncover every aspect of the world building, and I'm okay with some uncertainty in this case. I also want to bring attention to the unique ending to the story. Saving the world doesn't always result in the ideal outcome, but it is possible to try and fix things later and make a different kind of happy ending. Cruel Beauty shows us that, and this is what makes it unique and hauntingly beautiful.
Review repost from January 9th (here)
About the Author
Rosamund Hodge grew up as a homeschooler in Los Angeles, where she spent her time reading everything she could lay hands on, but especially fantasy and mythology. She got a BA in English from the University of Dallas and an MSt in Medieval English from Oxford, and she now lives in Seattle with seven toy cats and a plush Cthulhu. Cruel Beauty is her first novel.
1 ARC of Cruel Beauty
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