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Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: January 28, 2014
Reviewer: Lyanna
Rating: 3.7 stars


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.


When I first heard about Cruel Beauty, I was incredulous. I've been looking for a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast for so long that I've given up on finding any notable ones, until a friend recommended Cruel Beauty to me on Goodreads.

Long story short, fates have it, one day, I actually bothered to look at my book recommendations and I stumbled upon this treasure.

If there’s anything you should know about me it’s that; one, I’m not a morning person and two, I've got a thing for evil sexy wicked hot men. (Cough Ignifex)

Unlike most kids who grew up loving Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty for their Prince charmings and sparkling gowns, I cherished Beauty and the Beast because Belle was a (fangirl) avid reader like myself; I also felt that the story held a better meaning than that of the others.

But this is not your typical fairytale.

That aside, this book did not disappoint that much.


As much as it pains me to say this, it was really hard to get into this book. There were a lot of Greek mythology terms and other specifics that really perplexed me. I found myself focusing more on keeping track of it rather than following Nyx's progress. And that was a big disappointment because regardless of everything concerning the plot, the writing was really, really illustrious. 

But that's not what bothered me the most. It was the distribution of action that tipped it to my bad side. The first half was a tug of war in Nyx's mind between ignoring her quest and pursuing it. Somewhere in-between that and the last half, she gave up and tossed it aside completely to give room for the romance. Though, I delighted on it. 

The second half was a big mess of confusion far worse than the first, and that says a lot. 

World-building was somewhere between wtf-is-this to i-give-up-trying-to-understand, Hodge had a perfect foundation to build an awe-inspiring environment. But there were too many angles positioned to fit the ending that it failed to set a pace where the reader can keep up.  

"Don't look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back."

What I did like was the dark humour and nightmarish setting. I liked the ever changing-house of Ignifex. I admire the blood-curling way she told Nyx's story. That's really what pushed me to read further and Ignifex, always Ignifex, like I've said, regardless of the plot and positioning of details, Rosamund Hodge is an incredible writer.


Hodge's characters become very dimensional. We get a panoramic view of their in-depth personalities, they're very authentic and that's what initially drew me to them.

NYX: I had a very hard time liking Nyx, and I still don't. But I can't bring myself to hate her. She's real, she's human (how can I hate someone that reminds me of myself?). I like flawed heroines who are strong-willed, defiant, and raw. I like it when they make mistakes, I like it when they lose control, I like it when they drop facades, I especially love it when they embrace their true nature and stop fighting to be some picture perfect heroine that doesn't exist because we don't live in a picture perfect world.

IGNIFEX: Oh Ignifex, where do I even start? He is a very, very alluring monster.

"He had one of the most beautiful faces I had ever seen: sharp nose, high cheek-bones, framed with tousled, ink-black hair and stamped all over with the arrogant softness of a man just out of boyhood who had never been defied."

He's panty-dropping sexy, a pastor would've fainted hearing my thoughts. I like my men mysterious, and Ignifex oozed mystery and sex. 

Shade, on the other hand, is everything Ignifex is not. (Though he's nothing short of not-sexy, I'd very much have him if I can't have Ignifex.) If you place them side by side it's like staring at black and white, and that was really interesting, I didn't even give it any second thoughts so that plot twist really caught me off-guard.


In spite of everything I've just said, I do recommend it. People who enjoy, dark, blood-curling mysteries will be thrilled to read Cruel Beauty (and of course the Beauty and the Beast fans will also love to take a shot at this), but I'm warning you, you need patience. (and Ignifex belongs to me)

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