Published by: Balzer & Bray on January 28, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
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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 » [the two guys are actually different sides of one person, but they’re physically split apart so they seem like two people even though they’re not O_O « Hide 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.
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.