Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Ahh, I can't even begin to describe how much I truly enjoyed this book! It seems like the past few books I have read have been FANTASTIC! Now I'm worried that the next one will be not-so-great. I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I get there. But that doesn't change the fact that I loved this book! I wasn't expecting to love it. When I first heard of this book a few months ago, I was all like, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR ME! I mean, come on. The comparison to one of my all-time favorite books, Graceling!? But then I started seeing some reviews and Goodreads status updates, and I was getting discouraged. So, my standards dropped.

Well, whatever. I really enjoyed this fantasy novel. It took a little bit of patience to get into the story, but once I was in, I was swept away. The writing, the plot, the romance... everything was magnificent. Well, almost everything - obviously, no book is perfect. But you get the idea.

Nyx has been set up to marry the demon lord Ignifex since birth. Her father made a deal with the lord, and Nyx must marry Ignifex. Nyx has always resented her father for making this deal. She resented her sister, for being the perfect daughter who didn't have to spend her life preparing to marry and hopefully kill the demon lord. Nyx had a whole bunch of bitterness and hatred stored inside of her, and what better way to get that aggression out than to be shipped off to the demon lord's home as his new wife, and try to kill him? Poor Nyx.

The writing style of this story is gorgeous. It flows beautifully, and captivated me while I was reading. There are some books that have such choppy writing, and I want to strangle something because the writing style seriously detracts from the story. Not so with this author's writing. The writing style flowed well with the story, and really lent to the simple and yet complex nature of the story. 

The plot is immensely entertaining and interesting. Nyx spends her time in the house exploring the various doors and trying to find a way to kill Ignifex and free her people. Except things aren't that simple, because Ignifex might not be the one at fault. And Nyx begins to pity him, and eventually, fall in love with him.

I LOVED the scenes that featured both Nyx and Ignifex. From the start, I could see that scenes with both of them would be highly amusing and entertaining. Nyx is hellbent on killing Ignifex, and Ignifex thinks she is hilarious. I love the nature of their relationship, even when things change. Hodge keeps their chemistry and romance fresh and fiery, yet sweet and beautiful. It's one of those romances that creeps up on you, very subtly, and wedges into your heart. I loved this romance.

I really like Nyx. She is a strong-willed heroine, and I could see why she is different from the other wives. The whole book, I was hoping she would find a way to save Ignifex. I totally understood her point-of-view, in terms of her life and the bargain and loving Ignifex. So much had been taken away from her, and in the end, Ignifex had to be one of them as well? Nyx did not have it easy in this book.

Of course, I like Ignifex as well. I felt so, so bad for him throughout the book. He has such an easygoing nature, but it is all a mask. I don't want to go into details, but for hundreds of years, he has been treated in a way that he did not deserved.

This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I think it is a very good one. I don't remember if I've ever read any other Beauty and the Beast retellings, but I'll just venture a guess and say that this one is my favorite. And the fact that it keeps with the fantasy genre doesn't hurt - fantasy is my favorite!

There are a lot of Greek mythology references in this book, which is totally okay with me! I'm a Greek (and Roman) mythology buff - honestly, ANY mythology - so I really liked how Hodge included the mythology in this book. I wish I understood the magic a little better, but it wasn't important enough that I didn't know what was going on. Until the end, that is.

The ending. I am a little bit confused as to how the ending came about, but I really like the ending. It's a fitting ending, truly fitting to this story. I love one of the lines in the end - "The darkness and the shadows, they both have it in their hearts and they deserve to have nothing else" (ARC, 336). To me, that line is so perfect. The people that the line is referring to are riddled with imperfections and "darkness" in their hearts, and they deserve what they get. This is why the ending is so great - because Hodge finds the best ending for this story, and for Nyx and Ignifex. It's not perfect, and it's not all rainbows and sunshine. But it is just right for this story. Well done!

What I Did Not Like:

This might just be me, but the last part of the book - the last 25% or so - confused me. I barely understand what exactly was unraveling, what Nyx was finding out, what was all of a sudden making so much sense. She seemed to be understanding what was happening, but I was very slow to catch up. I *think* I understand most of everything, but the climax, and then the ending, happened very quickly. It was rushed, and I felt so behind in trying to comprehend what was going on.

Again, I *think* I understand everything that happened. I think I know what happened with Ignifex and Shade and Nyx and the Kindly Ones and whatnot. I might re-read this one, to be sure (it wouldn't be a punishment, to re-read this book!).

Would I Recommend It:

I would highly recommend this novel, especially to fantasy lovers, or readers who enjoy fairy tales or retellings. Also, there is a strong Greek mythology presence in this novel, so if you're a fan of Greek mythology (like me!), then that might appeal to you.

Rating:

4 stars. A fantastic debut, in my opinion! I can't wait to see what else Hodge has for readers. Hopefully, more standalone awesomeness! Or series awesomeness. Or whatever. You get my point. I'm a fan!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

38 comments:

  1. yeay i'm excited~ i have this for review and have read a couple not so great reviews but yours has restored my faith in this drama. I don't mind a slow start as long as i can get into it.. though i hope i am not confused in the end part of the book.

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. I have seen mixed reviews as well! Which lowered my expectations of this book. I hope you read and enjoy this one, Juhina! It's a keeper :)

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  2. Even with your mention of those Goodreads updates, I still feel like a black sheep when it comes to this book. I'm about 60 done with it and I'm just feeling really confused and upset and disappointed . . . and I really, really wish I did not feel that way about the book. :( I love the world and I do really like the MC, but the romance is not working for me. I just can't see the chemistry I'm hoping to see, and it's making me incredibly sad.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, though! If, after I finish it, and I'm still really disappointed in it, I really wish I'm a black sheep. I want people to love it, despite how much I'm not enjoying it.

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    1. There is no shame in that, Kaitlin! I can understand why that part of the book is throwing you off. I do hope that you finish the novel though! And every romance is different - you can't expect it to be purely physical and very obvious - or completely sentimental and super subtle.

      Anyway, here's to hoping you'll finish this book! Thank you, Kaitlin.

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  3. I like your review! I'm definitely going to get the book as soon as it's released. :)

    Jackie @Jackie's Book World

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    1. Aww, thank you so much, Jackie! That's music to my ears <3

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  4. OOoh great review! So looking forward to this one! It was yet another title I was rejected for multiple times on Edelweiss. I loved Beauty and the Beast and fairy tale retellings and I LOVE Greek mythology as well! Sounds like the perfect read for me! Great review, again! Really, really looking forward to this one!

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    1. Aww, Jessica, that sucks! I'm sorry to hear that! BUT, it is totally worth the wait! I am quite confident that you (you especially!) will LOVE this book. So many things seem to appeal to you. Happy reading!

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  5. I have been wondering about this one, and though I'm not a huge fan of retellings, fantasy & Greek mythology are more my thing, so I'll probably be trying to get my hands on this one!

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    1. Interesting - you're not a fan of retellings! Well, if you ever read one, this would be a good one to read!

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    2. I will be keeping it in mind for sure!

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  6. I've been seeing a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I was a little concerned, but it sounds like it lived up to your expectations. Some readers mentioned a love triangle if I'm not mistaken, which frustrated me a little.
    Anyways, both Nyx and Ignifex sound great. I read only one Beauty and Beast retelling, Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay and that one was absolutely wonderful as well. I would highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. It's a shame that last 25% was a bit confusing but otherwise this seems like it's a solid read. Great review!

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    1. Right?! The reviews for this book are very scattered. There is sort of a love triangle. I didn't mention it in my review because it's not really a love triangle.

      I never read Of Beast and Beauty! I wanted to, and I was really excited to do so, but I never got my hands on a copy. Soon! I will read it, since you liked it :)

      Thank you, Nick!

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  7. I have this for review as well, and I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it! I'm especially glad that the romance builds slowly, that's my favorite kind:)

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    1. Excellent! I hope you love this one, Tammy. And ME TOO! I loved the romance in this book :D

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  8. Great review! I still haven't read this one, but I might read it this or next week. I've been seeing great reviews around. It looks just like my kind of book.

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    1. Ooo, that's really soon! I hope you read and enjoy it! It's a beautiful standalone - so no waiting for sequels! Definitely check it out sometime, Anatea :)

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  9. OMG! Thank you, thank you so much for enjoying this book. I was really feeling discouraged to read Cruel Beauty after I've read 3 negative reviews about it. Others were even tempted to DNF it. I think they've got issues with the Green Mythology not clicking with the fairy tale aspect.

    BTW, I didn't fully read your review as I fear spoilers. Thanks for giving me the drive to read this. But that confusing ending doesn't look so promising... Hahaha.

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    1. Ooo, I know what you mean - the same happened to me (or, almost did). Honestly, I didn't expect the Greek mythology bit, so I wasn't really looking for the two to click. I was surprised and happy that the Greek mythology was there at all.

      And I totally understand! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my review at all, Charlotte! I really hope you read and enjoy this book ^_^

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  10. Amazing review :) I loved this book as well. <3 Though I mostly understood the ending :) So to me it was pretty heartbreaking. Sobs. But I loved it, still. <3 Glad you enjoyed it :D

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    1. Eh. I didn't find it that heartbreaking.

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  11. Wonderful review! :)
    I love to read books with mythology + Beauty and The Best story = perfect pick for me :)

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    1. Thank you! I hope that if you read this one, you love it! It's pretty great :D

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  12. I have always like the tale of Beauty and the Beast--so this book sounds like its going to be good..Mix in mythology and im dying to read this book now!!! Its a bummer about the ending making you confused though.. Great review!!!

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    1. That's so cool! I recommend this one to you then! And perhaps you'll understand the ending better than I did!

      Thank you!

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  13. It's not just you, the last bit confused me too, but I understood and thought the very ending was great and perfect for the story
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. Oh, PHEW. It's a good ending for the novel - it just took some understanding.

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  14. This is a must read for me, and it has been since I first heard about it. There is not a negative review out there that could keep me from reading it. Greek mythology, an amazing cover, Beauty and the Beast... I am in, all the way. I can't wait for the opportunity to read this one, and I really hope that it is sooner rather than later. Thank you for your review, and I am so glad that you loved this one!

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    1. Great! I'm happy to hear that! I loved this book. Greek mythology, and retellings, are two of my favorite types of stories to read. I hope you love this book when you read it, Jaime! It is seriously awesome.

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  15. Awesome review Alyssa I've been wanted to know what you thought of this book because I had my eye on it for a while now but I must confess now I am scare to read it because of the end I am going to be so scare that I am going to love it than when I read the end I'm going to hate it so I don't know if I am going to try this one out probably take it out in the library first but lets see thanks for sharing and for your honest review Alyssa!

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    1. Ooo, Katiria, that is music to my ears! I really hope you read and love this book! It's such a beautiful debut, and it is a standalone! You can't go wrong with this one. Borrow it and BE SURE to let me know what you think!

      Thank YOU for the comment, Katiria! :)

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  16. I love all the elements that you mentioned, fairy tales, retellings, fantasy so I am excited to read this! It sounds like an interesting love story too, without being too sappy which I hate!

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    1. Right?! It's the perfect mixture of things! And the romance is amazing. I hope you read this one, Susan - you might just fall in love with it, like I did!

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  17. So glad you enjoyed this one! It's one of my most anticipated. I just adore re-rellings. Can't wait!

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    1. You will love it, Vivien! I'm actually feeling to re-read it, which I haven't done with recent books in a while! :)

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  18. Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed it too! I was definitely a fan of the writing style. I loved the house! And I really enjoyed the parts with both Nyx and Ignifex, they had good chemistry & Ignifex is just so darn charming haha. I'm kind of confused by the ending too, it seemed a little rushed. The added mythology was great, since I definitely just expecting a B&theB retelling (:
    (here's my review if you're interested)

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    1. Love love love! But I think the ending is a universal thing - I keep hearing that people were confused by it. Glad it wasn't just me (or you)!

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