Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired

Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite Disney cartoons, but sadly, I have never taken the time to read the original fairy tale. I should remedy that, but in the mean time, I do enjoy reading novels that have a little Beauty and the Beast inspiration flowing through them. Cruel Beauty certainly has some elements of the classic relationship found in the Beauty and the Beast relationship, but Rosamund Hodge makes the lore all her own. I loved that she added in elements of mythology and created a beautiful, dangerous world.

Cruel Beauty certainly lives up to its name. The story is gorgeous and heart breaking on so many levels. The main characters are all flawed and feel like they have evil lurking in their souls. Each one of them must battle their cruel nature and seek to replace it with something beautiful and pure. I found the struggle of these characters mirrored the human experience. We all struggle to find balance between the light and dark that exists within our psyches. I loved watching this play out as the story progressed.

As you can imagine, it does take time to love these characters. In fact, I wasn't sure I would be able to find anything redeemable about any of them, but they slowly grew on me and changed my mind. The beginning of this one was extremely slow for me, but I am so glad I stuck with this one. It is a deeply imaginative novel with vivid descriptions and captivating lore.

Hodge has delivered a darkly luscious debut that is part fantasy, part fairy tale, and part myth. Complex characters, complicated relationships, and a dark romance also kept me turning pages. I'd certainly recommend adding this one to your pre-order list; it's sure to provide some entertainment on those cold winter nights. 

One Last Gripe: I mentioned this in the body of the review, but the beginning was slow and tedious. I worried that I'd never like the characters and that the plot wouldn't hold my interest. I'm so glad I kept reading.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I was mesmerized by the creativity that went into creating the castle and the lore.

First Sentence: I was raised to marry a monster.

Favorite Character: Ignifex

Least Favorite Character: Astraia

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.


  1. Ooh very nice review! I am so excited to read this one. I tried numerous times requesting an ARC on Edelweiss, but Edelweiss continues to prove they do not like me with the constant rejections.

    I love the Beauty and the Beast tale, Disney's version of course! I did read the original fairy tale and it was good too, although very different from Disney! I am very eager to read this one and your review has gotten me more excited! Great review!

    1. I really liked this one once I settled into it. It starts slow, but stick with it, it's well worth the time. I would love to hear your thoughts once you've had a chance to read it.

  2. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite too, but I find retellings exaggerate the protagonists a little too much to show how redeemable they are. But again, I haven't read this, so maybe it's different?

    Great review!


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