Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
To be published by Balzer + Bray
on January 28, 2014

Source: Thanks to Harper Collins for allowing me to read an e-ARC of this book through Edelweiss.

Connect with the author: website | Facebook  | Twitter.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 take: I love retellings, especially fairy tale retellings. Cruel Beauty, an imaginative, beautifully written Beauty and the Beast retelling, offered the perfect story to read on a cold winter day. The book's setting, a Greco-Roman inspired fantasy world, was intriguing. I also loved the way that Cruel Beauty adapted the original tale. In the fairy tale, a merchant picks a rose from a beast's garden. Threatened with death, he offers the beast his daughter in exchance.  Cruel Beauty features a desperate man who struck a terrible bargain with the demon Ignifex in order to ensure that he and his wife would be blessed with children. In return, his daughter Nyx was betrothed to Ignifex since birth, but she was also always told that she'd have to kill him. This aspect of the story -- the bargain, along with the fact that Nyx must try to guess the demon's name -- reminded me of Rumplestiltskin. I also thought that Cruel Beauty borrowed tidbits from Bluebeard -- a bride who lives in a house with locked, forbidden rooms.

As the synopsis indicates, Nyx is drawn to her demon husband -- but also to someone else. As I was reading I (highlight blank area for spoiler) was convinced that somehow Ignifex and Shade were the same person . I had a theory that Shade was Ignifex's shadow that had been detached from him, (end spoiler) so I didn't really see the situation as a love triangle. However, I can see how the situation could be interpreted that way, and how, in that case, Nyx could come off as annoyingly indecisive for a married woman who claims to hate her husband and be attracted to him and to someone else. One of my favorite parts of Beauty and the Beast story is the hate-to-love progression, the way that Belle comes to see the Beast as more than a monster, and as worthy of her love. While I would have preferred that Nyx came to her attraction to Ignifex a little more slowly, their relationship had an unpredictable quality, plus an undertone of wackiness -- and even a mild kinkiness -- that I loved. The book has other welcome moments of irreverent humor, as when Nyx's aunt gives her a sex talk before sending her off to her demon husband.

I'm a big fan of Cruel Beauty and think that Rosamund Hodge is definitely a writer to watch. I loved her writing, loved the way her book took a familiar and beloved story and transformed it into something completely new, loved the characters and the ending. If you're a fan of retellings, you definitely should not miss this book!

25 comments:

  1. This review makes me happy because I'll be reading it next week and I've seen mixed reviews. I can't wait to check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I seem to be the odd blogger out on Cruel Beauty--I enjoyed it but there were aspects that grated on me. I do love Hodge's writing style and story-telling but the romance fell pretty flat to me sadly. So happy to see that you really loved it :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read your review and I agree with your take on the Nyx/Ignifex relationship. I wanted a much slower hate-to-love progression. But I loved other aspects of the book so much that I am willing to overlook that (to me) small flaw

      Delete
  3. mixed reviews indeed. I can't decide if I want to read this one or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, and/or love the historical romance trope of "have to marry a man I hate" and don't mind a bit of a love triangle-y feel, go for it!

      Delete
  4. I just skimmed your review since I have this book and will be reading it very soon. I do know there has been lots of mixed reviews about it. Can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wheeee! I'm really excited about this one for some reason. I'm glad to hear that you loved it so much.
    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
  6. I finished reading this last night and I agree with everything you said. The story was just a beautifully rich and inspired piece of unique originality. I fell in love with the characters, the writing, and the gorgeous imagery that it evoked. :)

    Great review.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I loved this book! I read it last year almost by the time I got the ARC.
    I agree with you, I didn't feel like it was a love triangle, and I thought just like you while I was reading.
    I really really enjoyed this one! I'm glad you did too!
    Lis @ The reader lines

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes! I'm so excited to start Cruel Beauty (up next) and love the sound of it so far. This one has so many elements that I enjoy- trying not to get too excited over it has been hard. Thanks for the lovely review! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm reading this right now, so I skimmed, but I love it I love it I love it! The writing, that initial meeting...I can't wait to finish it so I can discuss with others! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite tales, but I also love the inclusion of mythology in this story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't know what to do. I tried reading it, but couldn't get into it. Maybe I will give it a second chance, given the fact that you loved it. Great review anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great review, I'm glad to see you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think it's wonderful the way the author fused bits from many fairy tales and made this a captivating story on its own. I'm so happy you enjoyed this, lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I really felt the Bluebeard similarities in this one especially with the previous wives about whom I would have liked more information. Looking forward to more from Hodge especially if they will be retellings!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Is it bad that I'm most interested in the kinkiness? But retellings, FTW!

    ReplyDelete
  15. When I read the synopsis I didn't realize it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast! I'd read this one just because of that aspect also kinkiness.....Sounds interesting ;)

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Jen!

    ReplyDelete
  16. OMG I loved this book so much! The mix of fairytale retelling and Greek mythology was just so awesome :D And the worldbuilding was just incredible! I guess I saw the romance as a love triangle, but I didn't really mind because I never really saw Shade as a proper love interest for some reason haha

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed this too! I love the crazy house. I though the romance was a tad rushed considering it's suppose to be a hate-to-love progression, I wish there was more of a build up, but otherwise, I though it was a great re-telling.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Does anyone have the book they'd be willing to lend out to me? I've only found the book on amazon. I can't find it at my local library and I'm mixed about buying it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Now that my review is up I can come back here and read yours. ;) I thought about the name guessing, but then forgot about it when I wrote my review. Your right about the Bluebeard association too. It was really good. Ignifex was probably my favorite character. I just loved that he was complex and could be sardonic one moment, serious the next, joking around, and then sweet. I really love these fairy tale retellings! Plus the ending of this one was fabulous and it still makes me sigh. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love fairy tale re-tellings too, but even more than retellings I love Mythology (I actually have a mythology review on my blog today haha) so I know this book will be an instant hit with me. (can you tell that my expectations might be high)

    I like that there isn't a love triangle, but a murky coulda woulda sorta maybe love triangle might be worse. I'll have to read it to see.

    Great review

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you'll leave me a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and try my best to reply. Leave me a link to your blog or website!

 
Blog design by Imagination Designs