Review: Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

You know that first book of an author you read and immediately fall in love with their writing, and are so enthralled that you want more and add all their published works to your TBR without even checking the blurbs of each? Yep, I have a new favorite author added this year. I have never shied away from my love of fairytales, and fairytales retelings – the darker the better, and then I read this magnificent piece of a retelling – this dark dark story of a heroine who doesn’t need to be the Good Virtuous One or the Chosen One to save her hero. I was so in love by the end of the book, I wanted to read it all over again. I loved it for its wickedness, for its deviance from the original tale, for the sprinkling of elements of the original and another, for setting up a whole new universe in it that feels so enchanting.

Nyx has been brought up as a weapon – she is to marry the Gentle Lord, a demon lord who presides over their world, and try to bring him down either by killing him or bringing down his hold over the world. She is not the determined, brave heroine you would expect – she is resentful of her path, she hates her family for making her so, she hates him for being so that she has to become this weapon; in short, she is a very complex character who is flawed, and has so much depth and is so brilliantly written. Her husband, Ignifex, is the beast, of course, and this tale also had hints of Bluebeard in the start, with the house and keys and the dead wives. But the real twist is in how the curse binds the two original tales together, and we get a male lead who is every inch as complex as the female one. He is cruel, and kind; demonic but not evil, gentle but not good. They grow to love each other so wonderfully, that despite it nearly being a love triangle, I enjoyed the twist at the end.

The writing was, of course, my favorite part of this book – the author set up a world influenced by Greek mythology, threw in some elemental magic, the curse and some fae elements. The characters were rendered in vivid shades of grey – there is no truly good or bad character in the book, just gradations of them. The important thing to consider her was how wishes and human nature were warped, and how love is also the thing that can destroy as well as save. Hats off to a morally ambiguous storyline!

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One thought on “Review: Cruel Beauty

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Recent 5 Star Reads | YA on my Mind

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