ARC Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted January 20, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28th, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Pages: 351
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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.

5 Stars

Cruel Beauty absolutely blew me away. So much so that roughly a week later, I’m still too speechless to write a review. I don’t know how to talk about this book without gushing. How to express in words just how much I loved it. But here we go. I will make a valiant effort.

That promo comparison “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast”? Yeah, forget that. That’s not going to work for this book. If anything, it’s Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast. Though I have not yet read Graceling, I feel like many other readers were kind of deceived with the comparison. This lovely debut hinges much more on Greek mythology, and it is much less so a high fantasy action adventure. So. Umm. Yeah. Please don’t go into this book with the wrong expectations.

But the premise is exactly what worked best for me. I absolutely adore Greek mythology. That’s why I love Percy Jackson, that’s why I loved Everneath. In particular, my favorite myth has to be Hades and Persephone, and there are some strong links to that in this book. So that instantly worked for me. Other myths and gods are mentioned throughout the book and I absolutely loved that. It was a really rich world, and you could tell that Rosamund really did her research for it. It may be too dense for some. But I adored it.

The other part of the premise is Beauty and the Beast. I think my three favorite fairytales are Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Rapunzel. So obviously this was a winner again. So when I heard about the premise, this became a must have book for me. But anyway. Nyx is our Beauty. Due to a trade her father made, she is promised to marry the Gentle Lord – Ignifex. But the Gentle Lord isn’t gentle at all, and has long been terrorizing their world, going so far as to put a dome around the land, cutting them off from the outside world and the blue sky. So all her life, Nyx was trained to kill him, save everyone, and avenge her mother, whose life paid the price for a deal with the devil. Nyx is snarky and fantastic. She harbors a lot of hatred for the Gentle Lord and her family, who have sacrificed her against her will. Her personality was instantly attractive to me, because she is absolutely fierce.

But another instant winner was Ignifex. I loved this guy from the very first appearance. He’s sleek, sly, cunning. He obviously harbors a mysterious and painful past, but takes up his position as the “Gentle Lord” with cold logic and reason. Nyx is trained to think he’s dangerous, and he certainly has his moments where he comes off as a total monster. But I found him deeply attractive. Not only because my mind decided on the best fancast ever, perfectly fitting his description: long-ish sleek dark hair, with a cunning smile and dangerous eyes.


And Ignifex loves toying with Nyx. He teases her from the get go, so from his first sentence to her (“You were asleep …. I got so bored waiting that I fell asleep too. And now here you are. You were a good pillow but I think I prefer you awake,”), I shipped it so freaking hard. This is my kind of romance, man. She’s trying to kill him, convinced that everything he does is evil, but gradually gets to know him and uncovers his mysteries. She falls slowly, but falls hard. And Ignifex, the tortured soul, just continually teases her because he finds her so interesting. But their love is true, full of faults, and absolutely addictive. Because they really understand each other and love each other for it. I had many flaily moments, which can best be summed up with my favorite quote.

“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.”Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I cannot handle my feels.

But we must keep in mind that Nyx is on a mission, and the romantic aspect, while completely irresistible and addictive, is not the only thing going on here. The plot seriously packs a punch and kept me turning the pages too. Obviously mythology plays a role in explaining the demonic forces at hand, and Nyx slowly learns more about them. She feels obligated to keep her promise to save everyone, especially her sister, even though they have a very complicated relationship. There’s rather a large plot twist towards the end. The story went in a direction I did not expect. But I absolutely adored it. It’s something I’ve seen before… in Doctor Who. (It’s not like I actively search for the opportunities to draw those parallels, okay? It’s just not. *cough*) But it was addictive, engrossing, and absolutely romantic. I needed desperately to reach the end, to know that everything turned out okay, and it was such a wonderful ending, I couldn’t imagine anything better.

Summing Up:

This is my first 2014 debut to read, and I already know that it’s going to be really tough for anyone to beat this. It played off everything I love in books: Greek mythology, a truly wonderful imaginative and thorough world, hate-to-love romance, a fiesty main character, a drool-worthy love interest, banter out the wazoo, a plot twist that had me cheering, and an ending that made me want to pick the book right back up again to reread it. A couple days after finishing the book, I went to pre-order a hard copy. This book needs to be in my life. I need to be able to hug it. It will be reread. I can’t think of any part of it I disliked. Honestly. This combination of Greek mythology and fairytale retelling worked wonders for me, so I will happily be reading whatever Rosamund Hodge comes out with next.

GIF it to me straight!

Me, to this book.

Recommended To:

Fans of Greek mythology (particularly Hades/Persephone), Everneath, and hate-to-love romance. Or, well, my heart says basically everyone, really.

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15 responses to “ARC Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

  1. I kindofsortof need this book. Right now. I need it. (And so I just went on Edelweiss to request it…I’m weak, man. I’m weak. Hopefully I’ll be approved soon!) The book just sounds so freaking awesome, and so many people have raved about this book. I need to hop on the bandwagon, you know? xD


    • Ha, I don’t blame you! I hope you get accepted, but it comes out next week, so it may be archived soon. In any case, it would be a book worth buying!

  2. Um… wow. THANK YOU DEBBY! Ok, I have to say I didn’t read all of your review… I actually started out too (because I had few intentions of reading this book and those are the only reviews I read ahead of time now) but in your first couple of paragraphs when you said that it’s MORE greek mythology than high fantasy… You sold me. I was not interested at all at first, but then when people started raving about I became slightly more intrigued. It definitely wasn’t something I wanted to read instantly, but the thought was there for maybe in the future if I had time (joke… when is that ever a possibly with all the books lol). THEN you said LESS FANTASTY and I had to keep reading a bit. I skimmed most of your review, so I’m sorry but I don’t want my opinions to get muffled, and just mostly read your summing it up but now I feel like I need need need this in my life. I love Beauty and the Beast but it sounded way to out there for me. BUT i LOVE greek mythology 🙂 YES! Added to the list!! Thanks for the thorough review (even though I didn’t read it all), and sorry if this comment makes little to no sense because I’m kind of gushing in excitement now 😀

    • Awwwwwww I’m glad I could convince you 😀 The greek mythology in this one is seriously SERIOUSLY awesomesauce. I just asdfjkl; *gush gush* There is still fantasy, so don’t get me wrong there. It is a fantasy world, ish, but not in the sense of an action-packed high fantasy. Just fantasy routed in greek mythology, which is awesome.

      I totally understand about skimming reviews, no worries 😉 And I’m very excited about your comment 😛 I hope you enjoy it!

  3. I was very worried when read that it was a “if you liked Graceling…” type book. I liked some of Graceling, but it was not my favorite book, by far. However, the reviews have been screaming their undying love for this book, and now I want it in the worst way!

    Thank you for the review!

  4. That’s a really good point about the Graceling comparison. I pretty much ignore those sorts of things these days, so I didn’t even remember that when I was reading. I adored Cruel Beauty and I enjoyed Graceling but they aren’t all that similar. I’m thinking they might be doing that comparison because Katsa is a prickly MC similar to Nyx? Speaking of Nyx 😀 <3

  5. Anjani

    i am not really familiar with Greek mythology but i’m a fan of hate-love relationship and fantasy hohoho SOOO YOU TOTALLY SOLD THIS TO ME. Thanks Debby for another passionate review! ;D

  6. Looove this book! Cruel Beauty is such a wonderful debut. With Beauty & the Beast being my favorite disney tale, I was afraid the book would somehow disappoint. Oh, boy, I was wrong. What I love the most is the fact that Nyx isn’t your typical, pure hearted loving ‘princess’, she has her own hatred, demons and all, but that truly makes her human. Multi-dimensional character, ftw! 😀

  7. Cruel beauty was so amazing! I loved Nyx with her wicked side, and her desires for revenge, one of best MC that I’ve ever read about. And Ignifex… WoW, I’m in love with this man. Their romance was so perfect…
    I’m a huge fan of retellings, and this one was a mixture of all my favourite fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin…) with some Greek mythology.
    I read the entire book in two days and I enjoyed every page. Also a 5 stars for me 🙂

    Great review!

  8. I SO want to read this…gaaaah! Every time I see a raving review, I desperately want this book! (I love fairy tale rewrites…though I’ve heard this one is more mythology then fairy tale). I will probably have trouble reading it slowly though…I tend to read everything fast.