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Sunday, July 5, 2015

[MINI-REVIEW] Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance, Mythology
Published: January 28th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
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 decided to try something new with my mini-review today. Since this is supposed to be short and quick, I figured I'll try just listing down what I liked and didn't like about the book. Let me know in the comments what you think of this format, okay? ^__^

What I liked:

  • The combination of fairy tale and mythology. Beauty and the Beast + Greek myths? Yes, please! (Although this reminded me more of the story of Psyche and Eros than Beauty and the Beast.)
  • The world-building. Arcadia's obviously Greek, but the setting is very rich and unique. Even the village's history is fascinating. I love Ignifex's house! And the locations of the Hearts are deliciously strange.
  • Nyx not being a timid, damsel-in-distress type heroine. She's feisty and determined and I liked that she's sort of an anti-hero. Kindness and malice both exist in her heart. She's not easy to like, but I found myself rooting for her. Nyx may be resigned to her fate, but she's not going down without a fight.
  • Ignifex. Like the Beast (in Beauty and the Beast), Ignifex is not really the evil villain that people think he is. He's just as trapped as Nyx is and the way he opened up himself and showed his vulnerabilities to Nyx made my heart go aww, poor baby
  • Rosamund Hodge's writing. The author successfully delivered a unique and dark retelling that definitely gave a twist in the fairy tale that we loved. Brilliant prose! Hodge can make you swoon in a moment then break your heart in the next.
  • Nyx's and Ignifex's banterings. I loved it when they're fighting. Both are witty and aggressive and their quarrels are hilarious. But for all their bickering, you could always feel the underlying sexual tension between the two of them.
  • The romance! This was a huge part of the story, maybe more than Nyx's quest itself. While this was a case of insta-love/lust (see below), I liked how their relationship progressed. They both saw each other's flaws but loved them just the same. Acceptance is the word, baby!
"But you know what you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That's why I love you."
If you desired someone, if he comforted you, if you thought he might leech the poison out of your heart, was that love? Or only desperation?
  • That ending! I really liked how it ended. It's not definite but so hopeful and sweet. 

What I didn't like:

  • (Kinda) Love triangle. And this is one fucked-up love triangle because the two guys are actually the same person. Talk about being torn. And I hate that Nyx thinks she loves one of them and then later kisses the other one. Argh! 
  • Insta-love/lust. Huh. Nyx sees Ignifex for the first time and almost forgets her mission because "he had one of the most beautiful faces I had ever seen." But this is a fantasy book, so probably I can be more tolerant . . . 
  • Info-dump! A lot of things really confused me and just sort of jumbled all together in my head. Especially on the time-travel part. Like, what hell's even happening?

Bottom line:

I had some issues with Cruel Beauty, but I enjoyed it immensely. This is a refreshing blend of fairy tale and mythology made possible by the beautiful writing of Rosamund Hodge. Intriguing concept, good storyline, excellent execution. If you're into fairy tales with a darker twist, I recommend Cruel Beauty.
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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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