Review: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge
Date of Publication: January 28, 2014
Pages: 342
Source: Library

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.
I'm not much of a fairytale reader. I read them when I was young and I enjoyed them but the one thing I've always known about fairytales is that they are light on the surface and lack details. Rosamund Hodge managed to fix this for me in this fantastic reimagination of Beauty and the Beast.

Although I've never read the original story or any other retellings, I have watched several adaptions including Beastly and the CW show Beauty and the Beast. None of these have managed to engross me enough for me to go seeking for more knowledge about the plot. Cruel Beauty had me googling all over the place for what I had missed as a child.

Hodge's faithfulness to the original story was even more fruitful for a reader who is relatively new to the story. I felt a pang of excitement each time I sensed something intriguing and dread when I felt my favourite characters would be hurt. I was so emotionally involved and engrossed in the story that with every chapter I slowed down trying to savour it for just a little longer.

One of my favourite things about this book was the characters. The book focused on the imperfection of humans. We like to label some as wicked and others as kind and noble but there is a little of both in all of us. Conversations between Nix and Ignifix explored this idea. People who come to bargain were selfish and thought themselves smart but that didn't make them incapable of kindness and hence unworthy of happiness. I'm thinking too much.

The world Hodge created was seriously fascinating and different. There was history, mythology, fairytales all spun into one. I wish I could remember all the little anecdotes that were told in between. There were tales of the Greek gods that were sometimes out of place when mixed in with the Kindly Ones and the Children of Typhone. But then there were tales that also worked like the story of Persephone and Hades. They were all hints building up to a big revelation.

Thinking about it now, I don't think I actually got to know Ignifix or Shade to well at all. Nix spent more time searching hidden chambers than actually exploring their personalities. From what I did get though, I was drawn to Ignifix.

I can see a lot of potential in the world Hodge has built with a lot of room for many more stories featuring different characters. It's what I want; I want more. For lovers of a good, dark tale of love and mystery, this is the one. This may not be the perfect read but heck it was darn close and I was in love and engaged through and through.

'"You will honor my mother or I will break this bottle over you head"'



  1. Lovely review Mari - I'm glad this story got you interested in the original fairy tale! I felt the same way as you about this I think - it's not perfect, and I wish I could have known Shade and Ignifex better (though I was drawn to Ignifex more too!) but the mythology and the world-building were excellent, and it was overall a very exciting story.

    1. Exactly, when I was reading I was completely mesmerized and confused at my love for it. It was good but I saw somethings that could have better however they didn't dampen my experience at all. This book was just that great.


  2. Amazing review! I actually really hated this, I just could not get into it at all but your review is so well written and it's nice to see what others loved so much about the story. I won't be continuing the series, but I am sure you will be and I am excited to see your review for her next book.

    1. Aww, it's definitely not for everyone. Sometimes it just clicks and you enjoy a book, other times not so much. Thanks for your sweet comment. I try to make each review better than the last and it's always very important to me to hear what my readers think of them <3



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