Title: Cruel Beauty
Written by Rosamund Hodge
Read by Elizabeth Knowelden
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Published by Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28th 2014
Genres: Classic Retelling, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: Los Angeles Public Library
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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.
“Very dark and different”
I admit that I had never heard of this book before but when it was recommended at audible as something that I might like, I decided to buy it. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I am a fan of Disney’s version and I love Belle but this book is not it. It is a classic retelling set in a different place interspersed with Greek mythology (Cupid and Psyche’s story).
The place, Arcadia, is cursed, brought about by the selfish prince’s bargain with the Kindly Ones. Arcadia is a gray and sad place. Crops have stopped growing, there is no sky, there is no sun. People now rely on arcane-like magic for light and other things. Nyx’s father had bargained the Gentle Lord years ago for children and he was granted twins with the condition of giving up one when she comes of age so she can marry him. Of course, everything you ask from the Gentle Lord has a price and for Nyx’s father, it was the death of his wife in childbirth. Because of this, Nyx blames herself and pushes everyone away, including her twin sister.
Why I like it:
- The story is odd, very odd. The setting is different and the characters are different but I think it enhances the story.
- Dark. I love that it is dark, a little bit Gothic.
- The world building was excellent. Rosamund Hodge created another world and described it to detail where I can actually imagine what it looks like.
- It is very refreshing. I love that Nyx, the heroine was not a damsel in distress waiting to be saved. She was raised to defeat the Gentle Lord and save Arcadia and she tries to do it, despite knowing that she will die in the process.
- The mixture of the traditional Beauty and the Beast elements and Greek mythology are seamlessly written. Although I did not see the fairy tale version of Beauty and the Beast because it was more based on Cupid and Psyche, it was mixed very well.
- Love that it is a standalone! At LAST!
What I didn’t like about it:
- The love triangle. I’ve read a lot of long triangle stories but this just felt off and a little bit annoying at times. When it is revealed who Ignifex and Shade are…well, let’s just say that I thought it was a little stupid.
- I wanted the other twin sister Althea (?) to have her own story or to try to storm the Gentle Lord’s castle and save her. Or something to that effect. She was planning to but she didn’t follow through and she was a little bit selfish.
- The selfish father and the scheming aunt. Need I say more?
- The story got a little confusing sometimes. It was a little too much the last half of the book and if you aren’t careful, you will get lost and confused.
- I hate the name Nyx. Not very princessy at all.
I know a few readers who didn’t get it but I enjoyed this book a lot and gave it 5 stars because I listened to this via audiobook. I might have felt differently had I read it instead. A must listen. Oh and yes, I had a hard time reviewing this book!
This was read by Elizabeth Knowelden and I liked it. Her voice and pacing was perfect for the darker story, adding a sense of urgency to the story. I probably wouldn’t finish reading this book if I didn’t listen to it in audio format because it did drag in certain parts. However, with Knowleden’s reading, it did not feel dragging at all and I did not have the urge to hit the forward button. I give narration a 5.