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Cruel Beauty: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cruel Beauty
Rosamund Hodge
Genre: YA Fairytale Fantasy
Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: January 28, 2014
by Harper Teen

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.

The synopsis suggests that this is a love story. In a way, it is, for it is by showing each other kindness that Nyx and Ignifex are able to find themselves. At the same time, it is more than it. It is a story about a girl learning about herself and finding the strength to fight for what she wants after having been raised to fight for others all her life. Romance threads the story, but it is not everpresent. Those who are looking for a romance-centered plot may be disappointed. Nevertheless, this is a solid debut from a new voice in YA lit. I look forward to seeing what Rosamund Hodge brings to us next.

Review repost from January 9th (here)

Additional Information

  • Kissing
  • Sex (not explicit)


You are the hope of our people.

My fingers writhed, clawing up and down my arms, until I couldn’t bear it anymore. I grabbed the lamp and flung it at the floor. The crash sliced through my head; it left me gasping and shivering, like all the other times I let my temper out, but the voices stopped.

“Nyx?” Aunt Telomache called through the door.

“It’s nothing. I knocked over my lamp.”

Her footsteps pattered closer, and then the door cracked open. “Are you—”

“I’m all right. The maids can clean it up tomorrow.”

“You really—”

“I need to be rested if I’m to use all your advice tomorrow,” I said icily, and then she finally shut the door.

I fell back against my pillows. What was it to her? I wouldn’t ever need that lamp again.

This time the cold that burned through my middle was fear, not anger.

Tomorrow I will marry a monster.

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.

Connect with Rosamund
Website | GoodreadsFacebook | Twitter


1 ARC of Cruel Beauty

Open to the US only
Giveaway hosted by Rockstar Book Tours

a Rafflecopter giveaway
14 comments on "Cruel Beauty: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway"
  1. I just finished this one last night and my review is already up. Seriously, such an awesome book! I can't even get over how wonderful it was. This is a great review and I agree with all of the things you had to say about it!

  2. Thanks for the giveaway. All the reviews I have seen for cruel beauty have been great and I'm looking forward to reading this.

  3. I've heard really good things about this one ~ can't wait to get my hands on it :) Thanks for the giveaway!!

  4. I'm loving the cover of this is gorgeous! I have heard nothing but great things about this book!

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  5. So agree with your review. I really enjoyed this too. It was such a different retelling.

  6. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book, but I still think I'm gonna give it a shot! Great review!

  7. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. This book sounds awesome-cant wait to read it!!!! thanks for the giveaway!!!

  9. This book sounds so good, I really want to read it!

  10. Sounds like amazing story, love retelling and my childhood fairy tale is beauty and the beast, Amazing cover too, so beautiful

  11. I have seen a lot of good reviews for this!! I'm definitely going to have to read it : )

  12. cannot wait to read this book!!
    good luck to Rosamund & continued success!!!!


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