by Rosamund Hodge
published by Balzer+Bray
genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings, Mythology,
Summary (Goodreads): 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.
My Thoughts: I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. There were parts that were interesting and others that were confusing. It was like the author had so many ideas for a book and felt they needed to get them all into their first book. There is the retelling of "Beauty and The Beast" mixed with a type of mythology. I'm not sure it always worked.
Nyx may have been my biggest issue at times. Unfortunately, with a retelling you have a picture of characters already in your head and Nyx does not come close. While I understood her reasons, I found her to be too bitter and it was constant. She couldn't seem to do anything without going back to how much she wasn't loved and how much she hates her family. It made it hard to believe that she would be so dedicated to save them all.
Ignifex's story was probably the most interesting. I liked learning all his secrets as well as those of the castle. There was a mini love triangle but to me it was obvious what was going to happen between Ignifex and Shadow. Even before the reveal I liked Ignifex more anyways.
Overall, it was a good story it just had a few too many components. The switch towards the end with Nyx's sister didn't make a lot of sense other than to add more drama to Nyx's story. It might go back to the bitterness and hatred. It lessened her character by making her unable to make any decisions on her own. She would think one thing then do the opposite because of her family.
I enjoyed this book enough that I would definitely give this author another try.