Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
published on January 28, 2014 by Balzer & Bray
fantasy | romance | retellings | mythology
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.
“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.”
As a huge fan of any sort of retelling, I was more than excited to finally read this book (and I would like to thank Faye for letting me read this one). It may not have lived up to my expectations (trust me, I did not expect any of it!) but I enjoyed it nonetheless–how I could I not? There was a sassy and oddly lovely hero, a pretty badass heroine plus mythology everywhere!
I used to believe that if I just tried hard enough, I could learn to love her without resentment, but finally I had accepted that it was impossible.
We are introduced to Nyx, a girl whose destiny was to marry the Gentle Lord and to defeat him once and for all. I liked her character immediately, for the main reason that she was the most honest heroine I’ve come across. She was honest to herself, mostly. She never denied that she was jealous of her sister, that she despised her father and aunt, that she was never a good daughter to her mother. She was a real person–she had flaws and knew that they were difficult, if not impossible, to change or correct.
And then our lovely heroine is deposited into the Gentle Lord’s castle, where all of the mystifying and skin-prickling events begin. Here, she is trapped with two men: Ignifex (the Gentle Lord), who bargains with people and sends them to their dooms, and Shade, Ignifex’s sort-of slave and his shadow. Both men are immediately (and I mean immediately) attracted to Nyx, causing a really annoying love triangle to spew. But when the love triangle was over and Nyx knew whom she loved, the romance became sweeter and touching.
Aside from the horrid pacing of the book, I did really enjoy the mythology and the actual plot. Nyx explored the house and learned so much, while constantly looking for ways to free the world from the Gentle Lord, and the beautiful relationship bloomed between our two main characters. Speaking of exploring the house, I really loved the setting. The house’s rooms constantly changed, and we’re always kept guessing at what’s to come up next.
Some parts of the story reminded me of the legend of Bluebeard rather than Beauty and the Beast though. Nyx was given a key that she used to roam around the house, but some rooms were “forbidden” for her to enter. I do like Bluebeard, so this wasn’t a problem for me at all.
The curses, histories and bargains in the novel were done really well. Every time a bargain was cheated, or someone was cursed (although there wasn’t much of either), I felt myself smiling at how wicked both the Gentle Lord and Nyx both were, and how Rosamund Hodge’s writing style made the story flow smoothly enough for me to really enjoy the book.
Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven’t, will you be getting it once it hits the shelves?