Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Cruel Beauty
Rosamund Hodge
Series: None
Released: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 5 GLOWING STARS
Word Rating: BURNING LOVE
Reviewed by: Blythe

Add to 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.


Let me say it now: Cruel Beauty is one fantastic, gorgeously written, spectacularly dark debut. Many of its aspects may not appeal to some readers, and I understand that; although I really loved how the romance in Cruel Beauty and the "love triangle" (note the quotation marks--don't run off) played out, I do understand why some other readers, a handful of my friends amongst them, take issue with much of this novel.

But honestly, it's been weeks since I've finished Cruel Beauty, and I have truly nothing negative to say about it, other than the fact that the world-building and terminology may be a bit overwhelming at first. However, when I got accustomed to the world in Cruel Beauty, and got a grasp on where Hodge was going with the story around fifty pages in, I was absolute putty in this book's hand.

Cruel Beauty is a very ambitious novel, and it's one that will likely throw some readers off in how odd it is; it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with some Greek mythology thrown in, a whole lot of fantasy, a maybe even a hint of dystopian aspects, and trust me when I say it's all handled really, really well. What could have easily been a convoluted and silly novel instead incorporated each and every one of those aforementioned plot points seamlessly.

Nyx is a strong willed character, and is at times a bit frustrating, but she is also one of the most realistic characters I've read about this year. After all the things she goes through in the novel, she's understandably angry and fickle regarding whom she truly loves, and why. In reality, I think anyone would react similar to how Nyx reacted if they were placed in the same situation as her. As well as being an authentic character, she does eventually grow past the anger that was so evidently boiling up inside her in the beginning of the novel, but she never truly gets past it, much like anyone wouldn't. And that's why I love her character arc and development: you may be just as frustrated as Nyx is with her anger and fickleness, but you can't deny that her emotions are real, and you'd react the same. In any other novel, with any other character, Nyx's actions may just have annoyed me. I'm aware of this; but in Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge creates a character in Nyx that is, while not always likable, wholly relatable, and that is a great feat in my eyes.

And then there's Ignifex, who is one charming little bastard, and I'll leave it at that. There are much more things for me to touch upon in regards to the romance in this novel, all of which are spoilers. So I'm just going to let the readers of this unravel the mysteries of this romance on their own. (And trust me, it's something you'll want to discover on your own. The romance is something you'll either love or hate (see below), but it is definitely intriguing and original.) But yes, Ignifex--awesome, complex character, with a unique and surprising backstory...yes. Yes, yes, yes. Lovers of Cole from the Everneath series by Brodi Ashton, this guy's for you.

I think Cruel Beauty is a novel that will have some pretty contrasting opinions once it's published. Although some think its romance is insta-love (which I disagree with since it was said that five months passed before any 'love' thoughts occurred, but I digress) with an unnecessary love triangle (which I also respectfully disagree with because of reasons, but you all know how I feel about love triangles), I found Cruel Beauty to be a truly beautiful and stunningly original debut. With it, Rosamund Hodge has taken some aspects from Beauty and the Beast that manage to make the novel stand out as an adaptation, but she also introduces so many new concepts of her own to make the ageless tale as old as time we all love even lovelier.


Giveaway [INT]

52 comments :

  1. FREAKING YAY! I was so nervous that you would hate this and then I might end up disliking it but omg it has the Blythe stamp of approval so that means I am triple excited. YAYYYYYYYY.

    Also, I will always read ALL the Beauty and the Beast retellings always and forever amen, thanks to Robin McKinley and Beauty.

    Just, I am so pumped, this post has me real excited to read Cruel Beauty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. April, I am SO excited to hear what you think of this one. I really, really hope you like it. *bites nails* I really love it. And Christina really liked it! Also, I've been craving Beauty and the Beast retellings after reading this one. I may have to check out Robin McKinley's. Did you like Beastly? I've heard mixed things on that one.

      But eeeeee, I really hope you like this one. You must let me know what you think once you start it!

      Delete
  2. You had me at "spectacularly dark." Great review! Can't wait to read this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And sorry, can't get my name to post for some reason. >:(

      -Franny

      Delete
  3. Interesting review! I love Beauty and the Beast - but I'm really interested in the elements of Greek mythology in this novel since Beauty and the Beast *is* derived from a Greek Myth (Cupid and Psyche - which also inspired the Raven Prince tale and East of the Sun, West of the Moon).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, really? I didn't know that. Interesting! I'm sure that's where she gets most of her Greek mythology inspiration from, then. There's also some interesting stuff about Pandora's box that is infused into the storyline really well.

      Delete
  4. This review has got me intrigued. Will definitely be checking it out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The author skips forward 5 months? Hmm... I've definitely heard mixed reports about this one. I guess it must be one of those love it or hate it novels - I shall just have to try it myself I guess. :-) Lovely review honey, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, and it's weird, because there's not really a page break or anything to indicate it. It didn't really bother me, but it said something like "five months had passed" and I was like, what? But still, love this book. I hope you do, too, despite the mixed reviews!

      Delete
  6. I LOVED this book as well! I read it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. The ending was the only part that confused me a bit - and I re-read it several times, so that helped. I absolutely HATE love triangles, but this one didn't bother me because I knew it wasn't going anywhere. So glad you loved this one, Blythe!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES, that's EXACTLY how I felt regarding the love triangle. Plus, it served a pretty damn big purpose in the progression of that plot, so it's not like it was useless in any way, shape or form. Yay, I'm glad you loved this too!

      Delete
  7. I have nothing to say besides this: I AM STARING AT THE BOOK NOW AND WILL READ IT TONIGHT WHEN I AM DONE HAVING MOTHER-DAUGHTER BONDING TIME THAT IS BEING FORCED UPON ME.

    ugh caps, sorry about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YESSSS. I am so nervous because you can never be sure if this book will work for someone or not but YES. I am excited to see what you think!

      Delete
  8. I've heard negative reviews of this and was TERRIFIED, but now I feel better and am wanting to start this ASAP. Because hello! Retelling! Realistic MC! And you said it was a stellar debut. So now I'm officially excited again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I hope you like it, then! But I'm glad my review had enough of an influence to balance out the negative reviews. :)

      Delete
  9. I really liked this one too! The Gentle Lord is amazing! I also have to agree with you about Nyx. She is SO realistic and I found her very refreshing and exciting. Hell, I found all of the characters awesome (except, maybe Shade) and the way Hodge added mythology into the story is beautifully done. Great review! I can't wait for your next one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad! And yessss, Ignifex. Love him. And ugh, Nyx is so realistic and badass and awesome. I love it. And yeah, Shade was iffy as a character, but I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be. But I loved the spoilery things about him. ;)

      Delete
  10. Oooh...can't wait to read this one after reading your review. I loved Of Beast and Beauty so I'm excited to read this one. Great review! ~Pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I started Of Beast and Beauty a few months ago but didn't get back to it, unfortunately. But what I did read was really good!

      Delete
  11. Woah this book sounds fantastic! Thank you for reviewing it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. And now I'm even more anxiously awaiting this book's release. I've read a good amount of "Beauty and the Beast" retellings, so I always appreciate it when an author can take the basic story and do something new and inventive with it. That certainly appears to be the case here. I'm intrigued about the apparent mixing of inspiration/genres at work here and I can't wait to see how they're all combined here. Lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's definitely what Rosamund Hodge does with Cruel Beauty. Hope you enjoy! Thank you!

      Delete
  13. I keep hearing about this book everywhere on the interwebs! It must be a good book if everyone is raving about it :) I can't wait to read it myself. Hopefully I'll like it as much as everyone seems to.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ohh, I want this book in my life so badly! I'm glad you loved it, I don't think I've come across a negative review yet, which gives me a great deal of hope!

    Also, and I might be way off base here, I keep thinking of Ignifex as being a bit like the Darkling from Shadow and Bone, which doesn't put me off one bit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I definitely wouldn't call that comparison inaccurate. ;) He's like Cole meets the Darkling, kind of. Either way, he's awesome.

      Delete
  15. Everyone and their mother loved this book. I seriously can't wait to read this. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  16. So much of what you've said here has my curiosities spiked. Ignifex is like Cole from Everneath? Yes please! And I'm loving on all the elements that have been thrown together in a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I don't care whether or not I think I'll like it; I need to read this just because it sounds so refreshingly original.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd definitely say so. He's the antihero type, you know? You know you should hate him yet you can't help but love him? And yay! I really hope you like it. Regardless of whether or not you think you'll like it, I think this is just a book you need to read solely for its originality and weirdness. ;)

      Delete
  17. I want so read this so much! Sounds great.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've been so looking forward to this book, but I've read such conflicting reviews about it so far. I'm glad to see another positive review of this--it further solidifies my excitement to read it! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the reviews seem to be pretty conflicting, but I'm glad that most of them amongst my friends are positive. Hope you enjoy!

      Delete
  19. This one grabbed me from the moment I saw the cover - the staircase with the flower is awesome! Fantastic review, I'm definitely going to check this out soon :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it so gorgeous? I hope you enjoy!

      Delete
  20. Lovely interview! I'd always wanted to read a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not an interview, but I know what you mean. :)

      Delete
  21. This book sounds amazing and your glowing review makes me hopeful! A combination of dark Gothic elements with Greek mythology, with charming odious characters! Sounds like my cup of tea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really, really amazing. Hope you enjoy!

      Delete
  22. Your review makes me excited for this book! I'm not a huge fan of retellings but I've heard so many positive things about Cruel Beauty! I can't wait to read it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This retelling definitely sets itself apart from the rest. I really hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  23. I am ready for the oddness, and the darkness. And to get a copy in my hands and see that amazing cover in person! I love Beauty and the Beast and anything mythology related, and this has both. And it sounds to me like it was done remarkably well! Thank you so much for your review, and for making me want this one even more! Thank you for your review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you should definitely like Cruel Beauty! Hope you enjoy.

      Delete
  24. Everybody's talking about this one (either positive or negative), so definitely curious to find out what all the buzz is about. Also, combination of Greek mythology and retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast is always a win in my book. Great review! Thanks for a chance to win it! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you fall onto the positive side!

      Delete
  25. I really can't wait for this!!!!! In Greece it may never come!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, that's a shame! Have you tried Book Depository?

      Delete
  26. Blytheus, we may have a torrid history full of bookish disagreements and a huge disconnect on genres we're interested in much of the time, but at least we have Cruel Beauty. Nyx is my favorite, except for when she chooses her family over Ignifex, because her family sucks and Ignifex is Ignifex. Sex over whiny sister! I'd have left them high and dry for sure.

    IGNIFEX. I ship them so much that I literally cannot ship them more. They are all ships in the world built into one monster ship.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog!