Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted September 25, 2014 by Sophia
1 Comment

Genres: Retellings
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Rosamund Hodge
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, 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. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

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.

I’m a sucker for fairy tales. I love retellings, myths, anything that’s a complete spin from a well-known tale. I’m curious as to what authors come up with – problem is, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White needs a major upgrade or I might mentally blow a gasket one day. I promise it won’t be pretty. No rants involved. Maybe a post about diversity in fairy tales instead (don’t you take that post idea if no one’s come up with it before o_o).

Well, Cruel Beauty is the cruel version of our beloved Disney characters. At least, that’s what I thought at the very end. It’s also got mythology, in which some I researched and learned new things (verification purposes). About time I’m not staring at what I learned in middle school/early high school over and over again.

Truth is, I enjoyed the concept of Cruel Beauty, but I didn’t really enjoy the story… not too much. What originally caught my attention was the very fact that “Belle” is destined to marry the “Beast” ever since she was young due to a bargain her father made (reminds me of another story I can’t think of currently). What I thought was even more interesting is how Rosamund Hodge bases the novel on ancient civilizations and mythology, particularly Pandora’s box. Actually, I thought it was genius. I also think I’ve spoken too much about the book with those two words.

What started to lose my attention was this particular sentence… when Nyx – “Belle” of the story – is first married to the Gentle Lord – “Beast” of the story – and makes her entrance into his castle.

“I’m here!” I shouted. “Your bride! Congratulations on your marriage!”

I was like, really? THAT’S how you would make your entrance inside a demon’s castle? Me, I would actually start plotting ways OUT of the castle, ways to avoid the Gentle Lord, etc. etc. NOT announcing, “Oh hey! I’m here! Come and feast on me!” *waves big sign*

And the Gentle Lord, no matter how much I like his humor, made a very unimpressive entrance.

In one moment I realized that what tickled my neck was a tuft of black hair, the blankets were a warm body, and the Gentle Lord was draped over me like a lazy cat, his head resting on my shoulder.

His reason?

“I got so bored waiting that I fell asleep too.”


“You were a good pillow.”

DUDE. Sleeping on your bride when you first meet her even though you’re now married? What an impressive husband you make. He could have slept next to her and not on top of her. You know, if a stranger – homeless or not – slept on top of me, I may kick said person’s butt until they get off and call it self defense. I suppose some are now worried about my future. I’m completely surprised Nyx didn’t mention that he was heavy, sleeping on top of her like that. Instead, this is her response shortly after:

“I’m sorry ,” I said, staring at the floor. “I just, my father made me promise to bring a knife, and— and—” I stuttered, acutely aware that I was half-naked in front of him. “I’m your wife! I burn for your touch! I thirst for your love!”

No offense, but that was so cheesy, it was bleeping hilarious. It’s really obvious later from the Gentle Lord’s constant mocking that Nyx should just act like herself and not the way her family wants her to act, but Nyx is completely oblivious.

Nyx, in a nutshell, is just the darker version of Belle. The semi-evil twin of Belle I may say, and it’s no wonder she’s named after the Greek goddess of the Night.

But I was a girl who had broken her sister’s heart and— for a moment— liked it. I had left somebody in torment and liked it.

Rosamund Hodge also implies that Nyx is well… a bit indecisive. In a conflict is more accurate. She wants to please her family – to fit in and meet up to her father’s expectations even though he prefers her sister Astraia. Yet at the same time, she doesn’t want to kill Ignite or whatever the Gentle Lord calls himself (the book was an e-loan and I’m basing this review off of my notes because I’m too lazy to jump on the hold list yet again) because she’s in love with him. I suppose it makes sense in a way, since she wants to go with her emotions yet she’s been trained her entire life to kill this one evil guy who isn’t actually evil…

“Of course he’s evil and unforgivable.” My voice felt like it was coming from the far end of a long tunnel. “But he is the only reason I ever honored Mother with a clean heart. And if I hadn’t learnt to be kind with him, I would never have come back to beg your forgiveness and choose you over him. So gloat all you want— you deserve to watch us both suffer— but don’t you dare say I will ever be free of him. Every kindness I show you, all the rest of your life, that’s because of him. And no matter how many times I betray him, I will love him still.”

I mean, Nyx is living with the Gentle Lord. She could have just made her decision to live with him always and never guess his name, right?

Cruel Beauty, as much as I like the entire idea behind it, is not one of those fairy tales I find very impressive. It’s very much one of those books that I roll my eyes at, especially at how the romance played out (just because I never dated a soul doesn’t mean I can’t tell).

3.5 Owls

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Sophia is a socially awkward Communications major who has a GIF for nearly everything and is frequently in a Hogwarts House Crisis. More of her bookish reviews can be found at The Arts STL.

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