Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe)
Published: 28th January, 2014
Balzer + Bray
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Age: Young Adult
From: Purchased via Amazon
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.
What I liked: This story tells the tale of a girl named Nyx as she struggles to do what she knows she must, or betray everything she was taught growing up to instead love the Gentle Lord who she was never meant to fall in love with. Nyx is a complex character, always wanting to do by what’s right for her family while at the same time hate and envy festered in her heart against the very same people. Ignifex was a character who showed, over the story, that the stories you can hear about a person may not always be completely true. The twisting of Greek mythology into the story was placed very well and helped build up the story to where it needed to go to explain everything that had happened in the past of Arcadia. I liked how the Greek mythology was woven in a places, explaining the history of how Arcadia came to be as it was, but always skirting around how it came to be sundered away from the world they used to know. It gave it an air of mystery and made me guess at what was really going on and I wasn’t right about most of it! Not all the characters are as they seem in the beginning, and the way Nyx grows over this story was great!
What I didn’t like: It felt like the story had a really slow beginning to it, and I also felt like, even though the Greek myths were woven in nicely, they were also dumped in at the time they became convenient to move the plot forward instead of foreshadowing some parts.
Overall Review: The original tale of Beauty and the Beast was weaved well into this new tale yet the spin given to it at the same time made it unique in its own right. This story is a dark tale about a girl trying to do what she had been raised to, while at the same time trying to listen to her own heart. While the story ended up taking an unexpected turn in the end with how Nyx dealt with her mission to her mother and to her kingdom, I ended up feeling a little let down by the end, kind of like I was in Crimson Bound. Maybe I’m a stickler for wanting both a happily ever after for Rachelle and Nyx in their stories, but also for the dark ending that I was expecting them to have no happily ever after.
Recommend?: I do! Rosamund Hodge’s tales are beautifully written and captivating in the story they tell the reader. I love them! I can’t wait to pick up Gilded Ashes to see how much I enjoy it!
My Rating: 4.6/5
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the series!
A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty.
Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.
Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.
As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?
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