Published by Balzer + Bray
Published on January 28th 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy & Magic, Retellings
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.
“I was raised to marry a monster.”
This book has been riding on a wave of positive hype, so I was cautiously sanguine when I started reading this book. I was worried that it won’t live up to its hype and I will drown in my sorrows for wasting my time, but fortunately, it wasn’t the case.
Nyx Triskelion was bread to defeat the Gentle Lord to free Arcadia. In hopes of defeating the him, she was trained almost all her life with Hermetic teachings by her father, knowing that she may die in the process. The city has been held prisoner under the Gentle Lord’s hands for nine hundred years. The Gentle Lord is a demon who makes bargains with those who are willing to sacrifice anything to gain what they want. Nyx’s father made a bargain with him to avenge her wife’s death and to free Arcadia.
Nyx is a superb female heroine, and one you can’t help but root for. She’s determined, sarcastic, spunky, and quick-witted. But despite all that, she carried a little bit of hatred in her heart because she didn’t want to die. She wasn’t perfect, but the way she faced the tasks ahead of her was admirable. Being married to someone who’s hated by all isn’t an easy feat, and this showed how strong a character she is.
The Gentle Lord, surprisingly, is my favorite character. He’s funny and sarcastic, and he’s even charming. Nyx calls her Ignifex, despite not being his real name. He gave her an opportunity every night to guess his name correctly as a ticket to her freedom, else she’ll die. I love his cockiness, and how he never loses his cool when Nyx baits him. I actually found him endearing even though he’s supposedly the villain in the story.
He opened his eyes and stared up at me as if I were the door out of Arcadia and back to the true sky. “That’s what makes you my favorite.” He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. “Every wicked bit of you.”
The witty banter between Nyx and Ignifex were funny at times. I really enjoyed the reading those in the story.
Ignifex : The better to kill me in my sleep?
Nyx : It would be rude to wake you first.
A twist to the story was contributed by another demonic character called Shade. He’s one of the demons in the castle and was tasked to always attend to Nyx. He showed Nyx kindness, but he also told her not trust him. Since Nyx felt safe with him, she started to care for him. In a way, this started the love triangle. I do not like love triangles but it was necessary for the plot to work.
I had to protect her- from the Gentle Lord but also from me, from the endless envy and resentment that seethed beneath my skin.
Both Ignifex and Shade were made of light and darkness. They both have affected Nyx in their own ways and it made the story more interesting. But as I go along the story, I already knew who I was rooting for. I found Shade shady.
Beauty and The Beast was one of my favorite tales growing up, and this retelling did not disappoint. The insertion of mythology was smoothly woven into the story which added more depth. Rosamund Hodge’s writing was gorgeous, and her vivid descriptions in the book will transport you inside Arcadia. I look forward to more of her books because I really enjoyed this one.
Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried.
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