Review and Giveaway: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

March 23, 2014 Giveaway, Reviews 32 ★★★★½

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe # 1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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.

There were several times during Cruel Beauty when I felt hopelessly confused.  I know very little about the tale of Beauty and the Beast, and also woven into this fairy-tale retelling was a good deal of Greek mythology and the supernatural.  But even when I was left scratching my head and trying to figure out what I’d missed, I was captivated by this story.  Hodge tried to cover a great deal of territory in Cruel Beauty, and she did it wonderfully.

For all of her nearly seventeen years, Nyx was raised with the knowledge that she had one mission life: she would marry Ignifex, a 900 year old demon lord, on her seventeenth birthday.  Before Nxy and her twin sister were conceived. their father struck a disastrous deal with Ignifex.  His wife was desperate for children, and he went to Ignifex for help.  Ignifex granted the wish in exchange for a very high price, one unknown that was at the time.   Nyx’s mother would give birth, but she would lose her own life.  Nyx not only had to marry this monster, but she was tasked with murdering him to avenge her mother’s death and to save the other people of Arcadia from the evil demon lord.

This burden weighs heavily on Nyx, and she has the added knowledge that she is the throwaway daughter.  While her sister receives all of the affection of their father, he keeps Nyx at arm’s length, treating her as little more than a bothersome employee.  Nyx badly wants her father’s love, and she resents her sister who sails through life with a smile.  When Nyx, with all of her insecurities, is shipped off to become Ignifex’s wife, she is prepared to meet a man who embodies evil.  Of course, the reality is a bit different.  He’s spectacular-looking, and despite all of the horrible things he has done. he treats Nyx with kindness.  Yes, he frequently lets her know that her life is imperil, but at least he’s humorous about it.

Nyx isn’t one to take any of this without a fight, and she prowls around Ignifex’s mansion, determined to learn his secrets.  And this home has so many secrets, it’s practically a character unto itself.  As Nyx grows closer to Ignifex, she begins to question her mission.  Can she really murder her husband?  Should her loyalty lie with her family, her husband, or perhaps, with herself?  I loved to watch Nyx struggle with this, and she grew as a character as she fought to assert herself.  The ending of this story is one of my favorites in quite some time.  It’s full of surprises and revelations, and even though Nyx’s actions were unpredictable (to me, anyway), they were true to the character she had become.

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32 Responses to “Review and Giveaway: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge”

  1. Pili

    I keep on getting very much intrigued with the mentioned Greek Mythology mixed with Beauty & the Beast here. I really need to read this one, because most reviews are very positive like yours!

    Great review, Stephanie!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #27!!My Profile

  2. Emma

    Strong review, Stephanie!

    And…oh goodness, I’m not sure what I’d be willing to sacrifice. That’s definitely something to think about.

    Thank you for the giveaway!
    Emma recently posted…Rewind & Review #11My Profile

  3. Valerie

    This is a great review! I was iffy on whether or not I wanted to pick this book up, but now I definitely do.

    If I was truly desperate for something, and also short on time, I would definitely sacrifice something stupid, either my life, memories, my children, my love. If I were protecting someone, I would definitely sacrifice my life, but never anyone else.
    Valerie recently posted…ARC Review: The Here and NowMy Profile

  4. Stephanie Sandefur

    It would have to be something pretty drastic, more for something I desperately needed rather than want..

  5. Heidi D

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cruel Beauty. Great review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

    It would depend on what would be required of me to attain whatever it is I’d want. If it was to save someone I love, I imagine I’d sacrifice just about anything.

    • Stephanie

      You certainly weren’t the only who felt that way. I think if you knew so early on that it wasn’t for you, there probably wouldn’t have been much point in continuing.

  6. Katie

    That’s a thought-provoking question! Hmmm, I don’t know if I could sacrifice my freedom, since that’s something that is so valuable to me. Maybe I would sacrifice my memories (which would be pretty difficult, actually) for something I really, really wanted…I’m looking forward to reading this book and thinking more about this!
    Katie recently posted…(Opening) The Cabinet of Wonders (2008) by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

  7. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Great review! I really loved this book! And I agree about it being confusing. I still can’t very well grasp the hermetic things… Gah

    As to answering your question, I wish I could say that I would sacrifice everything for the person I love, but that’s probably not the case. I think I would find myself in a situation similar to Nyx’s. I’d be questioning my duty, and wondering if it were really worth it. If it were something I badly wanted, I’d still have problems deciding what to do. I’m really indecisive that way. I’d probably just make a really rash decision and hope for the best, lol.

    Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…I’m a Reader, Not a WriterMy Profile

  8. Michelle

    My daughter says “I’d give up candy just to get a hug!” Best answer ever. I do not think there is anything in this world worth giving up my children for… I guess that’s what makes fairy tales so amusing. They take you to a different world, one that you can close at the end of the day and return to the world you truly desire.

  9. Kel

    I had really, REALLY been looking forward to this one; but I got the chance to read it recently and was, I’m sorry to say, very disappointed. (I’m still debating what star rating to give it.) I was never confused, but often irritated. Which stinks because this story has so many great ideas, but the execution did not work for me at all. Although, I still love the cover and the concept and wouldn’t mind having a pretty copy on my shelf. 🙂

  10. Mary G Loki

    It would just depend on the situation. If the price is right and the thing I want is so good enough, then yes.

  11. Ashley @The Quiet Concert

    So one of my biggest fears with this one is the Greek mythology and I have read other reviews saying they did not like the plot. Nicole loved it though so that also gives me high hopes! I am glad to hear though even with some confusion the plot was captivating!
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  12. Bailey

    If it was something/someone I truly cared about, I would give up whatever I needed to.

  13. Angel (Spare Reads)

    I want to really Cruel Beauty so bad!!! So thanks for the giveaway and I will have my fingers crossed for this one 😛

    It’s hard to tell what I would sacrifice for something I really want. But here is what I won’t sacrifice no matter how great the “thing” may be – my moral values. Some sacrifices are worth it, some are just fundamentally wrong. I hope I will have a clear head when decisions like this need to be made.
    Angel (Spare Reads) recently posted…Review + Giveaway: Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)My Profile

  14. Vanessa Vazquez-Moreno

    I Just Loved this story. I cried, I yelled, but it was really good and I enjoyed it so much.

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