Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Balzar + Bray (an imprint of Harper), 352 pages
Expected US Release Date: January 28, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge, Standalone Challenge
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.
If there's one thing I've learnt as the Lord of Bargains, it's that knowing the truth is not always a kindness.
Is it too early to declare a book my favourite of the year? Because Cruel Beauty is definitely a contender. A frontrunner, and I suspect will stay there for the next 12 months.
I’m not a Fantasy kind of girl. For someone with a crazy imagination like mine, I’m always pretty grounded even when not realistic. And I don’t really like paranormal, and I’m just…for whatever reason, I’m not really into magic and powers and all (excluding Harry Potter, of course. HP is the exception to every rule in the universe). So, I didn’t really expect to like Cruel Beauty. I love the story of Beauty and the Beast, and this one sounded just the right amount of different and familiar. But I definitely did not expect to be so blown away!
I have to mention the writing. I don’t think I’ve moved faster through pages before. The writing, the story, everything is just so smooth, I felt like I was gliding over the words and suddenly I found myself 130 pages in and I didn’t even know how I got there. The language completely transports you into a different world, a different time, and I was completely sucked in.
This was one of my status udpates on Goodreads:
Because oh my god I love Ignifex. Demon Lord and Darkness and all. He is so hilariously cheeky and mysterious and manly. Which is weird, I usually don’t get “manly” from a page, but oh heavens Ignifex has got it. I kind of love how he’s got his flaws, built in and up front, and that we are made to guess the reason for them and how it effects Nyx and everyone else.
I could not stand Nyx's family (I'd spit at Aunt Telomache, too), Astraia, and I was not sold on Shade—as people. As characters in a book, they were freakin’ fantastic. Just enough catalyst and annoyance to get me feeling, but endearing and intriguing to keep me eager and going. Shade reminded me quite a lot of Owen in The Archived by Victoria Schwab (review here!), in function and personality and everything. But it’s a good thing, because I thought that character was different and added a fantastic level to the book. But back to the characters as people---ugh. Astraia. I want to drive that damn knife into her and just…AGH. I hate her.
Cruel Beauty is one of the few books that I was kept guessing. I mean, I can generally assume…and since we know Beauty and the Beast…but there’s still something completely surprising and different about everything that happens. I love that the pacing seems to go along with the revelations in the book, that you feel like you’re supposed to start suspecting The Kindly Ones and the riddles and Hearts at the right moments in the plot, that everything feels like it comes together at that exact time that your breathe and heart is caught in your throat.
Cruel Beauty is a wonderful, sweeping novel, you guys. It is beautiful and different and filled with the intrigue and loveliness we all want from a fairy tale. There is darkness and light, flickers of hope and desire and strength at the other end of the pitiful despairs. Read, read, read this.
PS. Cover loooooooooove. Absolutely stunning.
and crimson roses more