Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by: Balzer & Bray on January 28, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 336
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★

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.


That’s how I feel about Cruel Beauty.

For starters, I think that Cruel Beauty was just nothing like I expected. Almost right away it becomes clear that there’s a huge connection to Greek mythology, and while I normally love Greek mythology, I just didn’t click with it at all in Cruel Beauty. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect it so I wasn’t prepared, or maybe it actually didn’t work within the book; I’m not sure. But I honestly thought it was a little weird. Think Shades, weird magic that I didn’t get, constant references to gods, the furies, a magical castle that changes and is almost alive..

And the romance in Cruel Beauty is also kind of strange. For starters, there’s sort of a love triangle. I say “sort of” because there’s actually more to it than that. View Spoiler » Nyx’s relationship with one of the guys—Shade—was very insta-lovey. The first time they meet they just randomly kiss. What the hell? Then basically a few days later:

Last night I had kissed Shade. Last night he had as good as said that he loved me, and I thought I loved him in return.

Already they’re talking about love? This is after they’d had maybe two conversations EVER.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - I wasn't born to be saved

And simultaneously, Nyx is pursuing a relationship with the other guy, Ignifex. She’s also kissing him and actually married to the guy. Ignifex is supposed to be the “beast” in this story, but while Nyx would talk about how she’s “falling for the monster”, I just couldn’t see it. I wasn’t connected to their relationship at all. I didn’t sense any chemistry, and as a reader I wasn’t falling for Ignifex. If I don’t fall for the guy, then I have a hard time appreciating the main character’s relationship with him. And in Cruel Beauty I just didn’t see the relationship working at all. There was nothing special about Ignifex. He wasn’t even that nice! (Unlike the original beast, who’s kind of a monster but slowly comes out of his shell and turns out to be a nice guy.)

I didn’t hate the first half of the book, but once I got to the second half I was just ready to be done. I pretty much skimmed the entire last quarter of the book because I just wasn’t that interested.

To wrap it all up: Cruel Beauty has a really weird magic/paranormal element that I didn’t expect, and when you combine that with a meh romance you get a book that I wasn’t too crazy about. I thought that parts of the paranormal elements were just downright confusing. I had a hard time visualizing them and that part of the story just didn’t click with me. Overall I’m massively disappointed because I was so psyched for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but Cruel Beauty just didn’t resonate with me.

I wanted a great love story, but I didn’t get that out of Cruel Beauty, which was the biggest bummer. If anything, the mythology and paranormal aspects were the strongest element.

The Verdict


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  1. Bummer, I have high hopes for this book. I am waiting to get it on audio. I don’t mind the insta love in fairytales. All the originals have insta love, well except maybe Beauty and the Beast. So it feels normal to me. I do think that there needs to be a very strong connection between Beauty and Beast though. That is what the story is about duh.

    JennRenee recently posted: Genre Definition and Recommendation #49
  2. Yeah I totally agree! The romance element was kind of ridiculous to be honest with how she was pretty much in love with both guys after only a few days like come on what was that about? O_O It actually takes like 7 months to scientifically fall in love with someone on average so the fact that it took Nyx and Shade a few days was so bad. I had the same issue picturing Nyx and Ignifex together too I don’t know why it just bothered me >.< Fantastic review, Ashley! I'm sorry this one wasn't for you 🙁

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
  3. I think I ended up liking this one a bit more than you, but I totally agree – this doesn’t fulfill our need for a REALLY GOOD Beauty and the Beast retelling. I think maybe all the “extras” (split-personality, added “mythology”, confusing magic, etc) created a jumble that made the basis of the Beauty and the Beast story fade into the background. 🙁 I’m definitely keeping my eye out for a simpler and more feels-inducing retelling in the future.

  4. Sorry you didn’t like it! I liked it, but it did lack the wow factor I was looking for. The love “triangle” was super weird for me. I never liked Shade and hated how insta-lovey that relationship was. I did really like Ignifex though. He was that cocky, snarky type that I fall for every time. I liked the addition of the Greek mythology, although I too was surprised about it. I thought that the explanations at times got confusing and I think it’s because the mythology was so in-depth so that probably could have been done better.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist
  5. With all the rave reviews this has been getting, it’s nice to see someone point out some of it’s faults. I had no idea it was based on mythology, or that there were so many paranormal elements!

  6. I was so excited for this book and I’m not exactly sure about it anymore… I’ve read so many glowing reviews in the past month, and now, like I said, I’m not sure :O I agree with you when you say that the kiss when Shade and the girl first meet is annoying. That bugs me too. So now I’m really curious as to whether or not this book is for me. I’ll probably still read it just to find out if I actually like it or not xD


  7. Oh no! Sorry you didn’t like it. The greek mythology part was unexpected for me too, but I loved it. I love how the author was able to connect the retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Greek mythology. I also liked the romance because of Ignifex. The only thing I did not like was how Nyx didn’t try to kill Ignifex. That fork scene was not enough.

    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted: Review: Elusion by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
  8. At least you finished it! After 59%, I had to give up. I found the mythology strange as well…it just didn’t fit with the story.

    “Already they’re talking about love? This is after they’d had maybe two conversations EVER.”
    That’s exactly what I said!!! The instalove and love triangle on top of that was too much for me to bear. My DNF review goes up Tuesday in my Books I Didn’t Finish post…it’s not pretty >.<

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Love for Books Readathon Sign Ups!
  9. All these different opinions about Cruel Beauty are fascinating to me 😀 Haha, so interesting to see the mixed feelings about this book. I personally loved everything about it, but I can understand why you had troubles with the aspects you’ve mentioned. There was definitely insta-love, but I wasn’t bothered by it. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did 🙁 and I hope your next read works better for you!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: Monthly recap. January.

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