26 Mar 2016

[Review] Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

Author: Rosamund Hodge
Original Title: Cruel Beauty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Finished Date: April 18th, 2015
Pages: 342
Read in: English
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
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 fulfil 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 - enthrals 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.
Source: GoodReads

Rating

This is a very peculiar book. I'm glad I went into it knowing little more than that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I can't decide whether this was beautifully weird or weirdly beautiful. Maybe it was both. The point is that this book should not have worked. But it did.
This book takes most of my buzzwords - greek mythology, Beauty and the beast retelling, morally grey characters - and blends them together in a complicated and strangely woven plot.
If you're looking for a great, out-of-the-box read, I definitely suggest picking this one up.

«Demons are made of shadow. Don't look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back

The following extended review contains spoilers
If you have not yet read the book and/or do not wish to be spoiled, please do not read any further.


«"(...) Do whatever it takes to make him trust you. Or your mother will have died in vain."»

This book begins darker than most books I usually read, and it was honestly a breath of fresh air. Not only was this protagonist angry at the world for being so cruel to her, but I was also surprised to see that I couldn't agree completely with anyone. Every single character was selfish and flawed in their own way, and it was refreshing to see that these characters were actually human. There were no people with a saviour complex who were kind and selfless and wholly good. These people were actual people. They were spiteful, selfish things who also had their own redeeming qualities.

«One of us had to die. That was the bargain Father had struck, and it was not her fault that he had picked her to be the one who lived, but every time she smiled, I still thought: She smiles because she is safe. She is safe because I am going to die."

This book packed such a powerful emotional punch. I could relate completely to the main character, Nyx, who was thrown into such an unfair situation and expected to make the best out of it. Trained from birth to die for mistakes that weren't her own.
She is conflicted from the beginning - on the one hand she does not want to die, but on the other hand she cannot wish for the alternative, which is for her sister Astraia to die in her place. She has all this pent-up anger building inside her, that she doesn't want to let out. When she at last does, it is one of the most emotionally draining, darkly satisfying things I've ever read.

«"You know, that Rhyme is a lie that Aunt Telomache only told you because you weren't strong enough to bear the truth. (...) The truth is, Mother died because of you, and now I have to die for your sake too. And neither one of us will ever forgive you."»

The building relationship and trust between Ignifex and Nyx is beautiful beyond words and I can't even explain how I felt when I finally understood that Ignifex and Shade were actually two halves of the same person. The yin and the yang. That he was actually the last prince was heart-breaking.

I did not love this book because it was beautiful despite the ugliness. I loved it because it was beautiful FOR that same ugliness.
It is a very hard thing to do, being able to capture human nature at its ugliest and make us fall in love with it, and for that, Ms. Hodge will always be in my recommended list.

«"We'll both be foolish," I said, "and vicious and cruel. We will never be safe with each other. (...) But we'll pretend we know how to love." I smiled at him. "And someday we'll learn."»

Did you read Cruel Beauty? What did you think? Let me know! :)

2 comments:

  1. After reading your review, Cruel Beauty has officially moved up on my TBR list! I can't wait to read it! Great review :)
    Erika @ Books, Stars, and the Pages in Between

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    1. Yes! I really hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much, Erika! :)

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