Tuesday, January 28, 2014

[Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge]

"Cruel Beauty"
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Pages: 352
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Date Published: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via Edelweiss) for honest review


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 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.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To Cruel Beauty,

You ended up being the first book of the year to blow me out of the water.  It could have been the beautiful way that you were written.  It could have been the complex and flawed characters that filled your pages.  It could have been the twisted retelling that you presented that threw even more than just Beauty and the Beast at us giving it and other tales a new face.  But all in all, I think it was a combo of all of the things that I just mentioned.  Congrats on being awesome and for giving me all of the feels and some really romantic moments.  You've done good!

-The White Unicorn

I'm seriously floored by this book guys!  Rosamund Hodge has created such a fresh and unique Beauty and the Beast retelling.  There are just so many out there and I love a good fairytale retelling just as much as the next person, but you always wonder how they are going to turn out.  I'll tell you that Cruel Beauty did not disappoint.  Hodge took great care in creating a world that was fully it's own.  She pulled in Greek myth as well as hints at other well loved fairytales.  There are nods to Bluebeard and Rumpelstiltskin woven into the story as well.  It's just a epic cluster of greatness that ended up working amazingly well together because Hodge knew just how to make her world come alive.  

It was pretty great to see Greek Mythology used in such a creative way too.  It was an interesting foundation for a fairytale.  It built up a lot of cool story arcs and added this sense of mystery.  I also liked how Hodge chose some of the lesser known myths to weave into her story.  It made even someone who knows a lot about Greek Mythology (like me) stay interested in the bits of the stories that she chose to share.  It kept things interesting for me and I wanted to know more.

Now that I've raved about the world building, I get to tell you guys about what really made this book work for me.  As if the world building wasn't enough, cause it totally was.  The stand outs in this novel were the characters.  Somehow, Hodge managed to give us intense, flawed, complicated characters that are there to captivate you.  I dare you not to be pulled into their stories.  They are all messy.  And when all is said and done they are all as evil as they are heroic and kind.  They are real and they have these deep and raw emotions that just scream at you from the pages.

Nyx was the perfect person to tell this tale.  Seeing everything through her eyes, brought the world to life in the most wonderful ways.  Her relationship with her family is a mess and everyone is hiding things from her.  Her husband is a demon lord who she has sworn to kill.  There is another magical shadow like being hovering on the edges of her life and yet she still manages to hold firm to what she needs to do.  She has these moments where she seems hard and she has these moments where she is one of the kindest souls you've ever met.  She just works as a character.  

There are two "men" vying for her attention.  In my opinion Hodge does a love triangle right.  Both Ignifex and Shade bring something to the table and watching Nyx's interactions with them is a blast.  You just feel all the things that she's feeling about these gents.  And I'd like to say that Hodge knows how to write her swoon worthy moments.  She builds these completely different kinds of chemistry between Nyx and both guys.  One is sweet and innocent and the other is playful, intense and slightly wicked.  I got all the feels guys, ALL THE FEELS!!!

Also, I really enjoyed Hodge's writing style.  It's one thing to be a wonderful storyteller, but I thought that her writing was also beautiful and honest.  She wasn't afraid to give us darkness, but she never forgot to give us hope as well.  She created a story that will play with your heart strings and will also keep you guessing as to how everything will end up.  

So, in conclusion I have to say that I loved pretty much everything about this book.  It is both a retelling and something much more.  I highly recommend this one!

        5 Unicorns = Get your hands on this one now!  


The Avid Reader said...

I feel like I have seen so many glowing reviews for this book lately! I can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Ashley said...

Nicole loved this one too! I cannot wait to read it. I have been reading some good but not great re-tellings so I am looking forward to a really good!

Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

YAY! I was waiting to see what you thought of this one, glad to see it's a 5! I loved it, and the mythology! I can honestly say I've never read anything similar to it at all. It was definitely unique, and well, Ignifex... Haha, great review! :)

Tammy Sparks said...

I just reviewed this yesterday too! I adored it and I'm looking forward to more from Rosamund Hodge:)

Nicole said...

As Ashley said, and you know, I loved this one so much. Your review is wonderful and I agree with everything you said.