Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Happy Valentine’s Day)

Posted February 14th, 2014 in book review / 18 comments


Cruel Beauty Universe Series #1

by Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Jan 2014)
Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tale, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eARC (352 pags)
Source: Free book from publisher (edelweiss) for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5 stars)

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.

At A Glance
An original and interesting read but it could be confusing.

The Good
Even with this being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, you are going to find it difficult to find a more original and unique story. Cruel Beauty takes the Beauty-Beast concept and twists the crap out of it. I didn’t expect such a complex tale that really did draw me in right away.

My favorite part was Hodge’s attention to detail. I loved the descriptions of the mad house that had a mind of it’s own, the spelled library, and the many rooms that appeared and disappeared at will. It was all so magical. I was blown away by the world and magic Hodge created with each beautiful word.

Cruel Beauty is also unique in that all the characters are extremely flawed. Nyx has so much hate in her heart, and rightfully so. Nyx was born to die. To give herself to a demon and damn herself while saving a world who cares nothing for her. It was all so horrible but fascinating. Nyx carried this hate and regret the whole time but her determination to do the right thing was always there. She tried to keep duty in the forefront no matter her feelings. But the “right thing” started to get hazy as we found out not all was as it seemed.

Ignifex was brilliantly wicked. I loved how he didn’t apologize for who he was. He was a bad man but he was capable of so much love. His character got more interesting with each page as we learned what and who he truly is. Ignifex will shock you with his words but will also make you melt with his odd kindness.

A hauntingly beautiful written book, cruelty and all. It was both disturbing and mesmerizing. I would continue this series just to see what Hodge has in store for us next.

The Bad
I think Cruel Beauty is too complex in some areas for it’s own good. The author did a wonderful job with weaving a detailed tale, but it could be overwhelming at times. So many riddles, so much mythology, so busy with info-dumps. You really have to pay attention to every second of this book or you will be left confused. By the end, I was somewhat exhausted with all the information that was thrown at me.

The romance was just okay. I don’t feel like we got to know the love interest enough to really root for him. Plus this kinda-sorta love triangle made things so complicated that I didn’t even know who the real love interest was. And I had absolutely no love for Shade.

The Snuggly
Even though the romance wasn’t awesome, I loved that Nyx fell for Ignifex, someone who is unabashedly evil. He says and does horrible things but she still loves him. You don’t see that very often. But I will admit, Ignifex isn’t all bad. He does redeem himself.

There is sex but it is not described at all. For young adult readers and up.

Final Thoughts
With better romance and less complicated info-dumps, this book could have been amazing. It was still pretty good though. I had fun. I want to see what else Hodge has to offer because she is a great writer. Recommended.

“You deserve all that and more. It made me happy to see you suffer. I would do it all over again if I could.” I realized I was shaking as the words tumbled out of me. “I would do it again and again. Every night I would torment you and laugh. Do you understand? You are never safe with me.” I drew a shuddering breath, trying to will away the sting of tears.
He opened his eyes and stared up at me as if I were the door out of Arcadia and back to the true sky. “That’s what makes you my favorite.” He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. “Every wicked bit of you.”  

“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense.
But now I knew that every mad word was true.”  

“Why is he scared of the dark?”
I meant the words for a joke, but Shade nodded seriously. “Like all monsters. Because it reminds him of what he truly is.”

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“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.”  

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18 Responses to “Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Happy Valentine’s Day)”

  1. Ashley

    I’m glad you liked it more than I did. I desperately *wanted* to love it! I just never got into Ignifex or their relationship, and though the mythology was too much like an info-dump overload. Bah.

  2. sherry fundin

    This is such a creative and captivating cover. I have seen it around and can’t help but stop and look again and again. I’m not sure how I feel about the fairy tales being rewritten. At first, I just blew them off, but now I am rethinking that. I think I will need to give it a go. Will this be the book I try first?

  3. Braine TS

    Sounds like the author wants utter and complete attention with the riddles and myths and all the details. Maybe it’s a little too much at first but I feel like since you’re acclimated to the story, it’ll pay off later on.

    Happy V-Day, Jennifer!

  4. Jaclyn Canada

    ***Melting*** YAY for the surprise Hugh Jackman gif. I’m really glad this one is so different from the original. I love that it’s unique and surprising. The info-dumps are a little discouraging…I have a problem with that. Not too sure what to thing about the confusing love triangle either, but I’ve been pretty interested in this one since I saw you post it so I’m definitely going to be trying it out to see what I think. Great review! Happy Valentine’s Day 😀 Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.

  5. elisa

    Hmmm, I had high hopes for this one, but it sounds like I need to pick it up when I have time to spend with it, not when in a rush! Great review 🙂

  6. Joy @ Thoughts By J

    Every one of my blogger friends seem to be in love with this story. Yours is the first review I’ve read that has found faults in the book. I really want to pick this up, it sounds more like the very original mythology (B&TB is based on the Norwegian stories of East of the Sun, West of the Moon), which I love, so I’m excited for this book!

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