Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: January 28, 2014
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Amazon - Goodreads
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.
I've been reading quite a few retellings lately and even though Cruel Beauty isn't an absolute favorite for me, I still really loved it! The main character, Nyx, was raised to be an assassin to save her people by being sent off to marry (and kill!) the Gentle Lord, also known as Ignifex. I loved how the lines of good and evil were blurred and you had to continue reading to really help define those lines, but even at the end of the book there still wasn't this super defined line, which was one of my favorite parts of the book!
I really enjoyed that Hermetic elements (fire, water, earth and air) were in the book and that Nyx was well educated in the subject. I've never read a book with that aspect to it, so I was so happy to see Hodge's writing perfectly added that bit to the storyline. I also was really fascinated by the castle Nyx was sent to live in! It literally had a mind of its own, seriously! It can move rooms around and things that were once there might not be there when you turn around, it's crazy!
I loved how I really didn't know exactly who the villain of the story is or if I thought it would be someone, everything would get turned upside down. I really enjoyed the unexpected twists that the author added to the story and just the complete uniqueness of those surprises.
Cruel Beauty was an amazingly unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had me needing to know what Nyx's decision was going to be. Hodge's writing was eerie and just descriptive enough to start your imagination off on helping create this brand new world she imagined. I'll definitely be reading Rosamund Hodge's novella, Gilded Ashes, which is a retelling of Cinderella and takes place in the same world as Cruel Beauty is set in. If you absolutely love retellings, Cruel Beauty is an absolute must-read!
*I received this egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.