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Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Thursday, January 9, 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.

Additional Information

  • Kissing
  • Sex (not explicit)

12 comments on "Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge"
  1. I am so excited for a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I have a copy of this, and I want to get to it soon. Wonderful review, I am even more excited now. :)

    1. Thanks, Jenea. I hope you enjoy Cruel Beauty! :)

  2. This one looks so good! I love the cover, and I'm glad to see the inside is good too. Nyx sounds like an intriguing character, and I'm looking forward to reading about her relationship with Ignifex. Thanks for the review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    1. Thanks, P.E. Cruel Beauty is a wonderful book. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. I loved the writing for this one-finding it intricate and rewarding, a lovely retelling! I like your note about the detailed imagery as that is something that still stands out to me even almost a month after reading it.

    1. Thanks! The writing and imagery are definitely the strongest parts of the book :)

  4. I really enjoyed this one! I thought Ignifex was an amazing character and I agree with you about liking the imagery. Great review :)

    1. Thanks, Montana. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Cruel Beauty too :)

  5. Haunting and beautiful are perfect words to describe this book. And I completely agree about the imagery! Great review!

  6. I absolutely love re-tellings; I just finished Cinder and I am now reading Splintered. I can't wait to get my hands on this book, everyone so far has seemed to love it. I am particularly glad to hear that it is not solely focused on the romance. Thanks for the review :)

    1. Thanks, Edel. I LOVE Cinder and hope you enjoy Cruel Beauty as well :)


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