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January 26, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - Fairytales & Greek Mythology

Cruel Beauty
Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
 Harper Collins
Publication date: January 28, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Fairytale Retelling/Greek Mythology)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 352
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.
Let's take a moment to marvel at this book being a standalone.. no.. this is not a contemporary book.. and yes.. I'm not tricking you, it really is a standalone *party commences* I know right? such a rare species to witness! I actually went into Cruel Beauty thinking it was part of a series but I am so happy to find out that it is in fact a standalone. Though I must warn you.. I almost labeled this book a disappointment because the beginning wasn't able to capture my interest at all.. however halfway through, I was addicted! 
I have a bad record with fairytale retellings. There you go, I said it. Till now I have never read a fairytale retelling that I rated higher than three stars. So I was a bit wary when I picked up Cruel Beauty since it is marketed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling. However, I have to say that while reading the book I honestly couldn't really connect it with that fairytale.. so if people are specifically looking for the resemblance, I don't think that should be the reason you pick Cruel Beauty up. The reasons are in fact much cooler, one being this book is set in a completely different world from ours with a historical vibe and is infused with greek mythology and teachings. I found that to be so fascinating and interesting. 
Another is the character.. she was put in a self sacrificing situation and what I liked about her is her honesty to actually resent the people who put her in this situation, even if it was her own father, aunt, and twin sister. I also loved how snarky and rebellious she was. After she gets married off to the Gentle Lord (i.e.: the demon that is the reason for her mother's death), she didn't cower in front of him. The fact that he looked like an actual, and handsome, man as well as found her rebellious streak amusing helped in her boldness of course. I loved loved the scenes between the main protagonist, Nyx, as well as the Gentle Lord, Ignifex. He was completely different from how she imagined him as well as how us, the readers, imagined him in the initial descriptions of him by the people in her town. We've also got another potential love interest Shadow.. who is an actual Shadow but I don't care about him which was why I was a bit uninterested the first half of the book since he showed up way more than Ignifex. The second half though? adorableness ensued. Kyaa! < that was my attempt at showing you how cute it was
Cruel Beauty was such a unique novel, I personally didn't know which direction the author would take throughout the whole time I was reading it. I would definitely recommend it to YA fans and just give them a heads up that even if they couldn't connect with the novel initially, they should stick with it and find out why I enjoyed it so much!   


  1. Standalones are very, very hard to come by and I'm always afraid that it may disappoint me in the ending that I've had previously, that I want to know more or she it to continue more. But hopefully this one will surprise. I love the concept especially with the Greek mythology and teachings they always fascinate me. :) Lovely review Juhina.

  2. OOoh nice review! I've been reading soooo many great reviews on this one that if I wasn't already excited about this one I'd likely burst with giddiness! Yeah, I'm weird! I love fairy tale retellings and enjoy them immensely. Sad to hear that they don't tend to be the same for you. But glad to hear that this one was amazing! Great review!

    An older series that I read years ago--that actually went on a bit more than I realized--was a series by many authors. It was tentatively called the Once Upon a Time series. There were all different books, each one a standalone about a different retelling of a fairy tale. Some well known, others not so much. Like The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey! My FAVE though was Snow by Tracy Lynn! You can guess that one's retelling!

    They are all likely fast reads and all were incredible! It was actually Debbie Viguie's Scarlet Moon that was my first introduction of a Red Riding Hood meeting the Wolf as a Werewolf! And falling in love with him was a definite foresight! Look into that series if you can. You don't have to read all of them, I've read a good chunk of the early ones but not all of the later ones and enjoyed all that I read! There's even a Beauty and the Beast one called Spirited by Nancy Holder. It was VERY different, but I do remember enjoying it. It had Native Americans and Beauty was an English girl taken hostage for some reason...and naturally ends up falling for one of the "enemies" but learns that he wasn't really an enemy!

    Okay, sorry for the long comment! Great review! ;)

  3. I'm happy that it is a stand-alone, but also sad because I loved it so much :D You know what.. I think I'm going to crack open my favorite fairy tale books and recommend one to you in the hope you end up loving it? Are you willing to take that challenge ;)?

    I think it's very loosely based on Beauty and the Beast in terms of, sacrifice & falling in love with a monster. But the focus is definitely more on the Mythology aspect. I loved the mix!

  4. Im Definitely looking for great stand alines such as this one., great review, i need to add this one to my TBR list for sure. you guys get such wonderful books from the publishers! love it! - Katie @ Inkk

  5. I'm actually sad to hear that it's a standalone. I love series, and I don't want to let go of a world I've heard is really cool. That being said, Cruel Beauty looks awesome. I'll be sure to stick with it!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  6. I loved this book! I agree that Nyx and Ignifex were super great together. I didn't realize this was a standalone, and now I'm really looking forward to seeing what else this author will write. Great review! :)

  7. Great review. I've been reading good things about this book. Thanks for the heads up about sticking with it.

  8. First time hearing of this one. It looks really good. Great review :)

  9. I'm actually a pretty big fan of retellings, but I don't think it's going to bother me at all that this one doesn't follow the real fairytale all that much. I've heard amazing things, and I'm glad that, despite the beginning, you managed to love this one too! The romance in this one sounds breathtaking, and I love that things aren't always as others make it out to be. The main character also seems so awesome, with her rebelliounsness and all. ;)

    Also, the world in this book sounds AWESOME. Like, historical, but not? Sounds like something I would utterly adore. Throwing that in with the fact that this is a stand-alone, and you've totally sold this one to me.

    Phenomenal review, Juhina! It seems like I'll be picking this book up ASAP! <3

  10. Ooh, I'm looking forward to this one. And it's a standalone!! I'm glad you liked it. And I've been trying to read Stephanie Plum once a month as well to catch up. Glad I'm finding others with my reading tastes (makes me feel normal).

    Thanks for visiting my haul.

  11. I really liked it. I didn't know what to expect either and I don't necessarily have the best tract record with retellings either so I was cautiously optimistic. I read a review where someone said they didn't like it because she was too angry but I didn't feel the same way. I think Cruel Beauty has some minor flaws but I still think it's a great story.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  12. First of I'm joining your party. I mean just the fact that this thing is standalone makes me want it even more. I'm planing to read it as soon as it's out and I have no doubts I'll enjoy it. I love dark things and this mix seems so good. Great review :)

  13. Okay, everyone I trust with ratings and reviews are loving this one so I should pick it up soon! Gah, work and school. Thank you for warning in your review that the book gets better as it goes. When a book doesn't grab me immediately and I'm not reading it with a deadline in mind, I usually space out and read it without any investment. Great review Juhina! (As always :P)

  14. I love retellings, but again, it can be a hit or miss. Now, Beauty and the Beast retellings? I MUST. Especially this one, I have to get my hands on it!

    Great review!