January 16, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty

a debut book by Rosamund Hodge
(will be) published on January 28th, 2014 by Harper-Collins
Young Adult/Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling/Romance/Mythology
a standalone
352 pages
finished reading on January 7th, 2014


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.

"This house has many dangers. I cannot save you from most of them."
I let go and forced a smile. "I wasn't born to be saved."

First YA debut I read this year and I'm thoroughly impressed! So good, so good. Cruel Beauty is a fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast (my favorite fairytale!) but you're wrong if you think you already know all about this book just by hearing that fact. I'm still liking this style of review-writing so here they are, my opinions of Cruel Beauty, in points:

  • I LOVE our heroine! In the original princess stories, the heroines are always depicted as someone who's kind-hearted, lovely, often receives bad treatment but still manage to keep a light spirit, which is, somehow, inhumane. Nyx Triskelion is the opposite! Her father had made an agreement with the devil, resulting in a marriage between the Gentle Lord and Nyx when she reached a certain age. Of course Nyx is full of hate, resentment, and despise toward her family: Her father, her aunt, even her sister too, because her sister is the one who'll stay while Nyx will be going to send off to live with (and kill) the devil (with the risque of, you know, getting killed herself). Nyx is totally NOT an innocent girl in this story. All the hateness and ugly thoughts of the main character, which we can feel clearly in Cruel Beauty, is decouraging at times, but the whole thing truly makes sense and it makes Nyx a multidimensional character, and the readers could totally relate to that.
  • Not just Nyx! What I love about the characters of Cruel Beauty is that Rosamund makes sure all of them are not a cardboard cutout characters. They're mostly grey, each one of them have both good and bad side. One time they can say the sweetest things, next they will threaten Nyx's life.
  • Rosamund Hodge chose to retell the story using the 'dark' way approach, and it works! It's edgy, different, there's no more happy, jolly, giddy feeling that usually appears when we read or watch Beauty and the Beast. This also helps with the world building and capturing the reader's attention. I'm fully immensed to the story after I learned about these two things: That Nyx is not your usual kind-hearted princess, and Arcadia is not your usual setting of disney stories.
  • Maybe it's because I've read too much books (not trying to be a snob here, nooo) or what, but I think I could already guess the truth about Shade and Ignifex since the first chapters (and I was happy to be proven true!). I'm not saying that Cruel Beauty is predictable, though! Some turn of events will have your eyebrows raised high and your mouth slightly agape, and this is FUN because you won't really know about the outcome of our Nyx and Ignifex until the very last pages.
  • No, I don't enjoy the pseudo love triangle between our characters. Sigh.
  • And the Greek Mythology side on this story? Sadly I can't say I fully understand about the whole thing. Between Ignifex, the shadows, The Kindly Ones, the last prince... I don't know. Maybe my brain's ability to absorb things have degraded A LOT but one thing for sure is that it is kind of complex.
  • The relationship between Nyx and Ignifex is the one that sparked my excitement when I was reading Cruel Beauty! I love it! They started with a shaky ground, with Nyx having 'task' to kill Gentle Lord, but then Ignifex started to show another side of his personality, which I found really charming. In this story, he's as much a victim as he's the villain. The banters, the whole push-and-pull, the sweet times, the progress of their relationship, the getting-to-know stage... I enjoyed every one of them! This couple made me smile and giggle like a fool a lot. Favorite!

“You deserve all that and more. It made me happy to see you suffer. I would do it all over again if I could." I realized I was shaking as the words tumbled out of me. "I would do it again and again. Every night I would torment you and laugh. Do you understand? You are never safe with me." I drew a shuddering breath, trying to will away the sting of tears.

He opened his eyes and stared up at me as if I were the door out of Arcadia and back to the true sky. "That's what makes you my favorite." He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. "Every wicked bit of you.”

My final thought of Cruel Beauty is that I LOVE it! Rosamund Hodge had successfully made a good impression with her debut novel. Cruel Beauty is very, very different than the usual classic fairy tale series, and though it's not without some imperfections, it's the first book of the 'fairytale retelling' categories that I've finished. Yes, it's true! I've tried to read the famous Lunar stories by Marissa Meyer (retelling of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, they say) but up until this day, I still have not picked up Cinder where I've left it. I swear I WILL make it one of my goals this year to read all the book in that trilogy! And I've heard about Splintered (and Unhinged too), which have been told as 'alice-in-wonderland' retelling. Should I try that one, too? What do you think? I don't know if the reason I managed to finish Cruel Beauty is because Beauty & the Beast is my favorite fairytale, or what, but I'm clearly not disappointed by Cruel Beauty! Far from it! Make sure you check this one gem out at the end of this month ;)

What do Khanh and Katy (from Goodreads) think about Cruel Beauty? Click on their names and read on! (Beware of the spoilers, though)

For fun: Watch this enthralling book trailer of Cruel Beauty

What do you think about this one? Will you be interested in reading Cruel Beauty? What's your favorite fairytale stories? Do you think I should try other fairytale retellings like the ones I've mentioned above (Splintered, Cinder, Cress, etc)? Tell Me! On another note, have fun and read some more! :)


  1. Actually Beauty and The Best is my least favorite fairytale because it gave me horror when I was a kid. I always thought Beast was a monster who tortured Belle and would conjure her to be a plate or something if she didn't want to marry him. Ladies and gentlemen, my 5 year old's imagination.
    But then I saw Aidan Turner on your review and ended up read all of it. It looks very enjoyable to read, and I love that it took dark side of the fairy tale. I'm curious how love triangle took place here XD
    Love your review! I'll put on my wish list, hope the paperback will come out less than a year X_X

    1. lol, thank god for the Aidan Turner gif, then! :P
      I'm not a fan of the love triangle (or any love triangle, for that matter) but yes, the book was really enjoyable to me.

  2. Aaaw :3 Jadi penasaran pengen baca!

    1. Baca gih, Niv.
      Udah pernah baca fairytale retelling, belom? :3

  3. Nice. I hadn't really paid a close attention to the cover until now. Glad you enjoy it. I'll have to read it sometime soon :D

    1. It's a lovely cover, it's what actually drawned my interest onto the book before :)


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