Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source: Edelweiss via publisher*
Rating: 4/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
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.
My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
Hits and Misses
MISS: The beginning. I got a bunch of info dump. Basically the set up of who Nyx was, the purpose of her marriage, the backstory of Arcadia and the Gentle Lord (Ignifex) and how Hermectic magic and the Resurgandi emerged not even 10% in. It was overwhelming, frustrating and hard to follow because it came out all at once. Especially with the main character’s resentment bleeding into it. This is probably where I struggled the most because I had to push pass the confusion and my initial dislike for Nyx.
HIT: Ignifex. I’m going to say right out that he was my favorite everything and anything in this entire book. He was just those type of characters that even though you know he’s bad and evil and has done horrible things, you can’t help but love him. That’s how it was for me. Ignifex was just wickedly charming, fascinating, and mischievous. He was sweet in a weird, annoying yet endearing way. And I loved how gentle he could be around Nyx and how he was concerned for.
HIT: Main character, Nyx. I debated whether or not if she was a hit for me because she was a very hard character to like. She just had so much resentment and hate in her heart (some justified, some not). However, her stubborn, hard-headedness, and snappy come backs sold me in the end. She never failed to amuse or entertain Ignifex and she struggled with duty, love, betrayal and loyalty that made way for some interesting decisions and moments.
MISS: The framework of the world building failed for me. I had trouble envisioning what it was suppose to look like (Arcadia and the castle). I couldn’t really picture it. It was just so hard because I couldn’t immediately process the descriptions and the information given to me about it. Eventually (about 50% in) I finally knew how things operated and what certain things were. It just took me awhile and I wished the initial way things were explained were clearer so I didn’t have to fight so hard.
HIT: The odd but gripping romance between Nyx and Ignifex. These two kind of tumbled into love. They didn’t want to and never felt it, but they loved each other, faults, evil, poison and all. They had tender moments one second then witty banter the next. I just loved them most because there was trust, betrayal, forgiveness and understanding in their relationship. I was just really taken by the whole falling in love with your enemy type of thing.
HIT: The overall storyline. The different elements in this book from the magic, the demons, and even the splash of Greek mythology here and there was really wonderful addition. There were old stories, rhymes, myths and legends that intertwined with the plot line that made me wonder whether or not they were true (as did Nyx). The whole book had historical-fantasy-paranormal feel to it and I really liked that. The twists of the who, what, when, and how Ignifex came to be was remarkable. I really loved that aspect and how everything tied together in the end.
All in all, Cruel Beauty was amazing and bewildering all at once. For me, it was a battle to read but it the end I did fall in love with the story. It was a struggle, but well worth the experience to get to the surprising end. Rosamund Hodge gave me a gem of a read, one that I will never regret.
*Thanks to Harper/Balzer + Bray for sending a copy for review
I was not compensated for my opinion
"You don't do anything by halves, do you?"
"I didn't even get halfway with killing you, but give me the knife and I'll fix that."
"I'm the evil demon lord, I know it's not a compliment, but I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart."
"If you start wondering how this house works, you'll likely go mad. That could be amusing, I suppose. Especially if it's the kind of madness that causes you to run naked through the hallways. Do feel free to indulge in that anytime."
"If there's one thing I've learn as the Lord of Bargains, it's that knowing the truth is not always a kindness."
"But you know who you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That's why I love you."
I think I'm wicked enough to love a demon.
He knew me. He loved me. And he had never asked me for anything.
There's no wisdom in the world that will stop humans from trying to snatch what they want.
"I love you more than any other creature because you are cruel, and kind, and alive...."