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Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty

4.2 127
by Rosamund Hodge

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If you’re excited about the upcoming Disney film Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, don’t miss Cruel Beauty.

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in this dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our


If you’re excited about the upcoming Disney film Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, don’t miss Cruel Beauty.

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in this dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Perfect for fans of bestselling An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fiery 17-year-old Nyx has always known she is destined to marry the prince of demons—her father bargained her away before she was born. Even so, she has been trained in the Hermetic principles, and she hopes to use her skills to thwart Ingnifex's power and save her homeland from his control. When she arrives at the ruins of his ancient castle, nothing is at it seems: the rooms constantly change location, and she finds both beautiful magic and chilling horrors behind the countless doors. Also, Nyx cannot deny her attraction to Ingnifex, who is not exactly the monster she dreaded to meet. Debut novelist Hodge has created a rich, complete world in this twist on "Beauty and the Beast"; it can be slow-going (though not unrewarding) to wade through details about the demon's many rooms and the complicated, tragic mythology that brought him there. However, the banter between these well-matched foils is lively and sharp, and the pace picks up toward the end as Nyx first sacrifices for duty, and then for her own heart. Ages 13–up. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates. (Feb.)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Will have readers clutching the book and flying through the pages.”
“[A] fast-paced romantic fantasy.”
Sarah J. Maas
“A dazzling and clever retelling, CRUEL BEAUTY is delightfully dark, lushly romantic, and utterly spellbinding. I adored it, and can’t wait to read Hodge’s next novel!”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The push and pull romance between Nyx and Ignifex is pure fairy tale, but the characters themselves are complex and genuinely human as they struggle with their own culpability in a situation that forces them to choose between selfishness and selflessness.”
Sherry Thomas
“What a stunning debut. This is a book you will want to read as fast as you can for the intricate plot and as slowly as you can to savor the gorgeous world-building and the ravishing love story.”
Alex Flinn
“A completely engrossing tale.”
Children's Literature - Emily Griffin
Twin sisters, Nyx and Astraia live in the kingdom of Arcadia, an island ruled by the Gentle Lord, a demon. Before their birth, desperately wishing to give his wife the children she wanted, their father makes a deal with the demon lord. In exchange for the mother conceiving two daughters, one daughter must become the demon's wife. But, as the kingdom knows the Gentle Lord never plays fair and the wife dies after Astraia is delivered with difficulty. Wish granted the bereft father is left to raise his daughters, and select which one is to be sacrificed. While Astraia is coddled and loved, Nyx is treated with cold detachment by her father—who decides to raise her with the sole purpose of defeating the evil beast and save the kingdome. Now, upon her seventeenth birthday, Nyx must meet her destiny and marry Ignifex. Though resentful and bitter, Nyx has always pretended to be good and happy for the sake of her sister. She dislikes that her heart is secretly full of hate. The truth, Nyx discovers waits in her husband's castle. But with this truth she comes to save the kingdom in a twist that will surprise and thrill readers. This adaption of Beauty and the Beast combines Greek mythology, particularly the myth of "Cupid and Psyche," with fairy tale lore to weave together a complex fantasy that is rich in detail, action, and hidden meanings. Nyx comes to embrace the darkness and the light that is within her and those she loves. Though some layers of the story unravel rather confusingly, this is a clever debut novel that delivers plenty of intrigue and romance. Reviewer: Emily Griffin
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Susan Redman-Parodi
Since her birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the Great Lord Ignifex, evil ruler of her kingdom, an arrangement made by her father. She grows up with resentment for her position, but also a burden to fulfill the bargain. She struggles with her feelings of hatred for her family for not trying to change this destiny, and she also feels ashamed for wanting to escape her fate. Nyx decided early on that the solution to this would be that soon after she married, she would kill him and destroy his castle, freeing her country of his tyrannical rule and breaking the curse put on her people. But Ignifex is not what Nyx expected. She soon sees that he is kind and compassionate and she is intrigued by his charms and enthralled by his castle—the shifting maze of magical rooms all for her to explore. Nyx begins to solve the mystery of the powerful curse her people are plagued by in order to free her homeland. As she unravels each mystery, she becomes more engrossed in Ignifex, and is beginning to feel love for him. In a powerful clash between sworn duty and allegiance, and the unmistakable influence of love, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or her future with Ignifex. This young adult fantasy-fairytale will have readers clutching the book and flying through the pages. Filled with mystery and romance, readers can connect to the story and feel the conflict, as well as the love. With roots in the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, and mythological elements from the stories of Cupid and Psyche, this book is a well crafted, modern rendition that will resonate with a wide audience. Love is cruel, but also beautiful, and Hodge has created a story around that theme that readers will devour. Reviewer: Susan Redman-Parodi; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Nyx Triskelion has known for most of her life that she must marry Ignifex, the "Gentle Lord" who terrorizes her world, due to a bargain her father made before her birth. She also knows that once married, she must destroy the evil despot and the demons under his command. For years, Nyx has been training in the Hermetic Arts, the method by which she is supposed to kill her husband. Yet when the time comes, she cannot shake the desire she develops for him. It does not help that she was raised as barely more than a sacrifice, unused to the idea of love. Despite her attraction to Ignifex, Nyx makes several attempts on his life (all of which are easily thwarted). Hodge's story infuses elements of Greek mythology and classic fairy tales. The plot moves quickly, and the characters are well formed; their transgressions make them interesting and authentic. The complex relationship between Nyx and Ignifex is especially engaging. An entertaining read for teens who enjoy romantic fantasy.—Kristyn Dorfman, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
An absorbing, beautifully complex retelling of the "Cupid and Psyche" myth. Nyx Triskelion has been raised to marry and defeat the Gentle Lord, the tyrant held responsible for sundering her land from the rest of the world and controlling the demons that haunt it. Nyx is distressed to find herself attracted to her beautiful new husband, Ignifex, whom she has been taught to loathe, while simultaneously developing feelings for his servant, Shade. But this is no fairy-tale romance, and Nyx remains true to her promise, making several attempts on Ignifex's life that only succeed in entertaining him and eliciting flirtatious responses. As Nyx unravels the truth behind the isolation of her land, as well as the very existence of both Ignifex and Shade, it becomes clear that only when she accepts her feelings can she face the truth: She must choose between following her heart and fulfilling her duty. A rather dramatic first encounter between Nyx and Ignifex belies what comes after—an intricate and arresting tale well worth readers' time. Twining themes of self-awareness and the duality of human nature, Hodge succeeds in creating a refreshingly human and real protagonist and love interest. They are both strong and flawed, and they—even more strikingly—embrace those qualities in themselves and each other. Engrossing. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Cruel Beauty Series , #1
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File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years


Meet the Author

Rosamund Hodge grew up as a homeschooler in Los Angeles, where she spent her time reading everything she could get her hands on, but especially fantasy and mythology. She received a BA in English from the University of Dallas and an MSt in medieval English from Oxford. She now lives in Seattle, Washington, with seven toy cats and a plush Cthulhu. She is also the author of Cruel Beauty; Gilded Ashes, a Cruel Beauty novella; and Crimson Bound. Visit her online at www.rosamundhodge.net.

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Cruel Beauty 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
Brooke-The-Cover-Contessa More than 1 year ago
I want to thank Balzer and Bray (Harper Teen) for sending me a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review. So, I'll be honest from the get go and let you know that I did not read the blurb for this book prior to reading it. I loved the cover and heard so many people praising it, I just had to read it. So, when the chance presented itself, I jumped right in. To not mention the cover would be a sin. So there I go. It's just gorgeous. I love the color scheme and imagery. It's really quite fantastic. So just by looking at this cover I wanted to read the book! I'm a huge fan of fairy tale retellings. Or any retellings, to be honest. I love to see how authors take what I know and twist and turn it into something that it totally and completely unique. Hodge does this in such a great way. While I had heard it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I can honestly say while there are definitely underlying themes of this story, it is totally different and new. And I really didn't fell like I was reading a retelling but rather I was reading a unique story about a young girl who is sent to her death only to meet and fall in love with the man she should be set to kill. It's dark and twisty and romantic and amazing. Nyx is such a strong character. I love how she is determined to find a way to save everyone. She begins her trek as a selfless person, hell bent on making sure her town becomes free. I really loved this character. She is strong and stoic. She does have very strong opinions and sometimes those get in her. While she wants to be good, she has this underlying darkness that is itching to break free. And she's snarky and sarcastic, which works well with the other main characters: Ignifex and Shade. Ignifex and Shade, two sides of the same coin it seems. Ignifex is the monster, hell bent on containing Nyx's village of Arcadia. Shade, on the other hand, has a hand in wanting Nyx to free the city. Ignifex is all that is dark and brooding in a character. I really loved him from the very start. He was snarky and fun, a great compliment to Nyx. I seem to be drawn to the "bad guy" in books more often than the gentle souls that are portrayed as the best boyfriend material. This is Shade. He is loving and gentle side of the coin. He shows Nyx things she would not otherwise be able to see. I will say that Nyx's sister, Astraia, really made me mad. I just didn't like her at all. In the beginning of the book she's so childish compared to her twin. I just can't understand how she could be so different. But later on in the book we see another side of her, one I was not expecting at all. It was liked she flipped a switch and became a different character. And I hated what she asked of Nyx. The plot of this book is completely amazing. For the first three or four chapters, Hodge hits us with a lot of world building. I almost felt it was going to be a book full of info-dump. But I quickly learned that all this was necessary so that I could understand why Nyx needed to marry the Gentle Lord (demon lord, really, not sure of the name Gentle since he's anything but!). It's an intricate story of twists and turns, with slow reveals of information that peel back layers as reveal truths. Hodge also infuses a lot of Greek Mythology into this book: The River Styx, Pandora's Box and a bit of high fantasy. And Hodge's writing, just...WOW. I am not sure I can adequately describe how rich and fulfilling it was to read her words. She paints pictures that are very vivid and real. She makes things complex and intriguing. There are some areas that I had to re-read in order to really grasp the ideas and understand what was going on, but it did't deter me from wanting to continue and figure out just what was going on. All in all this book was absolutely fabulous. A fantastic debut novel. It's totally original and there's no way that my review would ever be able to truly capture its power. I urge you to pick it up, and read, and keep reading, and then finish reading and sigh as I did when you put it down at the finale! I'm really looking forward to Gilded Ashes and anything else Hodge decides to write. She has pushed her way into my top author list for sure!
book4children More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for your next addictive YA fantasy, this could be it. Cruel Beauty has an intricate plot with complicated, twisted characters. Nobody is who they appear to be. There is so much going on in the story that it is easy to get swept away into this world of bargains and deceit, where answers lay hidden and just out of reach. The writing is gorgeous. The author manages to describe events and feelings in a way that I've never seen before. The relationships between all the characters is a fascinating web of hatred, love, lies, and truth. While the book isn't entirely perfect, it is pretty darn close. It's the timeless romance story that every girl loves. Content: Violence and innuendo
hrschic More than 1 year ago
I did not receive a free copy of this book. I do not know the author. This is an exceptional book. Period. Much more for a first novel. Enough twists and turns to keep the  mental gears grinding. Not so many as to lose the reader. A heroine to cheer for. A hero to love. a quick pace, but not rushed. Kudos, Ms. Hodge I hope to read more of your stories in the future.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) 17-year-old Nyx has been raised to marry a monster – the Gentle Lord who rules over the village where she lives. An old rhyme gives her twin sister hope that she will slay the beast on her wedding night and return to her, but Nyx has little faith that she will achieve this. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the monster, and actually want to be married to him. Can Nyx break the enchantment over her village? And was the sky always the colour of parchment? This book was weird. Just weird. Nyx was such an odd character. She seemed to like causing other people pain, and would intentionally say things designed to hurt people, especially the people she loved. She also seemed to like inflicting pain on herself, why else would she fall in love with a monster? And not just any monster – a monster that she has sworn to kill, has been raised to kill! A monster who she claimed to hate, a monster who caused the death of her own mother! The storyline in this was also weird. We had aspects of beauty and the beast, we had a touch of Rumplestiltskin and other fairy tales mixed in, and we also had mythology in there, with stories about Pandora! The storyline was complicated and confusing, and while at times I enjoyed parts of it, at other points I was really bored. The romance was bizarre. After being sent to kill her new husband and failing, she claims to hate him, and then when something happens and all she needs to do is step back and watch him die, she saves him and decides that she loves him! I mean where did that come from? I just can’t fathom this one. At least in the Disney version of beauty and the beast the beast starts acting kindly toward Belle, and oh yes, she wasn’t sent there to kill him and free her village from a terrible enslavement. The ending to this was also weird and confusing, and I’m still not really sure what happened. The whole thing was just odd, and I’m really not sure what to think! Overall; weird and confusing. 6.5 out of 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. I read it in one day. Cant wait for a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm going to keep this short and sweet: Read the book and you won't regret it. It is downright one of the best books I've read in a while, and will leave you breathless. I just want to read it again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall this was an entertaining read. The authors writing style did bother me at first, but once I got swept up in the story my annoyance went away. I loved how she weaved in Greek Mythology. Although sometimes it did get a bit overwhelming I do think the comparison to Beauty and the Beast is a bit overused. There are some similarities but the story also has a lot of original ideas as well.  The female character was stronger than a lot of the female leads I've read in other YA books which was refreshing.  There weren't any lulls to the plot, it was start to finish action. Since this book looks like it's going to be the only one, it didn't have the dragging moments that many book series can fall into. 
terferj More than 1 year ago
I think I went into this book with high expectations. I think that's why I'm slightly disappointed with this book when I finished. I did like it was a different way of retelling Beauty and the Beast. A+ for originality. I liked that Greek mythology was a big part in here (anyone knows me, I love Greek mythology in books). I thought the Greek Gods tied in nicely with the story. I was disappointed with the main character, Nyx. She was so frustrating and whinny. A lot of back and forth of I hate my family but no I really love them. It got very tiresome. The insta-love was not a good one in this book. I didn't feel any real connection with the main characters. When the romantic moments did happened, they came at the most awkward times. Not a really good time to have it except one moment. That's saying something. Ignifex had his moments. I liked the whole story that revolves around his background/story. I liked the way it ended. I just wished some things were written different and that's why I will say this book was just okay.
PCRachel More than 1 year ago
3 Stars, 3.5 Stars...I don't know! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite things (hello, have you seen the name of my blog?), so when I first heard about Cruel Beauty I instantly wanted to read it. A retelling of a favorite movie (I know, I'm behind on reading the actual fairy tale, but I vague bits and pieces)? YES, PLEASE. And the pretty cover doesn't hurt, either. So when I finally got to reading my copy, I was hoping for something amazing. Unfortunately, what I got instead was more of a mess. I don't know that fantasy's my thing, but I've been getting more into it lately, so that didn't bother me. What may have bothered me was the mythology. Mythology is not my thing. In fact, I kind of hate it. (Please don't make me go through The Odyssey ever again.) And that aspect of the book kind of troubled, because I didn't really understand it all the time. (And the odd names don't help anything, either.) I don't think I understand how things worked for half the book, and especially the last forty pages or so. That completely confuddled me, and while I slightly know what happened, I don't know that I'm right. By the end of a book I should have all the answers and know what happened, but I'm not so sure that happened here. While the book got better, it started out rough. I almost felt a hatred toward it at the beginning (which went away), but my gosh, it was ridiculous. (And, side note, the font, though I got used to it, drove me crazy. Something about it just BUGGED me. Maybe it was the spacing, or maybe that the dashes looked like hyphens, and the size of the punctuation made it hard to tell comma from period and colon from semi-colon--which may have been overused, by the way.) And I don't know when and where this book was set, and that's something I'd like to know. I also have a problem with the romance. Don't get me wrong--I like romance (love it, actually), and tend to get bored when there isn't any. So I was happy that this book had romance. BUT. It wasn't my favorite romance. I never felt strongly, like OHMYGOSH I SHIP IT SO HARD, about any of it. Sure, I wanted certain people to be together, and I was happy when they were together, but there were issues. For instance, romance progressed too quickly. Like, why are you talking about love or making it when, from my POV, you've known this person for like five pages? The characters were nothing spectacular, and while they made some interesting decisions, I wouldn't say hated any of them. (Well, I wasn't too fond of Nyx's sister, Astraia.) Nyx could be described as rude, strongheaded, and a b-word--though what would you expect from someone who was raised to marry an evil guy and kill him? Her POV wasn't unbearable, but it got better throughout the book. I liked Ignifex all right, though he was an odd character. I'd say more, but I want to avoid some spoilers, though I will say that I liked Shade, even he, too, was odd. Despite the confusion and messy feel the book had, the writing was bad. It was nice, and had some pretty detail with it. I wouldn't say no to reading something else from Rosamund Hodge. As for the ending of the book...what even happended? I DON'T KNOW. I liked this book, and I might like it a bit more over time, but something just didn't work and it drove me slightly crazy. What else can I say? It was a good book, but something prevented it from making it feel like a good book? I devoured it okay, but still...You know, with this book, I just don't know.
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
Dark, thrilling, romantic, and full of secrets. This book was beyond amazing. Cruel Beauty was magnificent, brilliant, so wonderful that I can't even put it in words. But, I'll try. The fact that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling already gave it a point in my book, since that's my favorite fairy tale. But, it went so beyond that.This book was perfection. I loved every bit of it! I have to say that the world building was downright awe-inspiring. The world that the author created was darkly magical, ethereal, and just amazing. Despite how complex the world of this book was, I couldn't find a single hole in the world building. It was breath-taking how beautiful the world of Cruel Beauty was. The character development was also note worthy. Every single character had so many dimensions and felt like real people. No character was entirely good or bad. Every one of them had their own assets and flaws. I really liked that about this book. With the flawless world building and character development, this book is one that draws you in and makes you part of the realm. Nyx was one kick ass heroine. She's ruthless, somewhat cruel, and somewhat selfish. She resents her family and betrays one of her loved ones. She was not an entirely good person. And that's what was great about her. Despite her flaws, she was still a likable heroine. She was loyal to her kingdom and determined to do what was best, even if she had to sacrifice for it. She was remarkable strong and truly earned her happy ending, fighting tooth and nail to achieve it. I really liked her. I thought she was a brilliant character. Ignifex was very similar. Despite his original status as the antagonist, he doesn't stay that way. He's cruel, selfish, and uncaring of others' pain. But, he's also protective of what he loves, sweet when he wanted to be, and, in the end, willing to sacrifice for love. Not to mention the literally split aspect of his personality. What do I mean by that? I can't say without ruining the biggest surprise in the book. But, it was one hell of a secret and it's revelation made so many little things that didn't quite make sense, suddenly have so much meaning to them. He was awesome and amazing and I totally adored him. The romance was perfection. Nyx and Ignifex were really each other's perfect match. They are both strong, formidable, and, despite their flaws, had their redeeming qualities. And that allowed them to balance each other out. The romance was dark, sweet, and absolutely wonderful. I loved these two together. As I said before, the other characters were so complex. From Nyx's sister and father, to Ignifex's servant, every character was dimensional and interesting in their own right. Even when I really didn't like some of them, I though they were great. The plot was fast paced and I was utterly riveted the entire way through. The dark magic, the secrets, the surprises, the betrayals. It all had me on the edge of my seat. The secrets that were revealed were truly shocking and the revelation about Ignifex's past totally blew me away. The story was fantastic and the ending was perfect. Cruel Beauty was a magnificent, wonderful, brilliant YA romance. I LOVED IT! It was dark, romantic, and full of surprises. If you're looking was an amazing YA book that defies expectation, this is one you'll want to read. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Farsong More than 1 year ago
Wonderful fairy tale! It has everything the old-time fairy tales have--an admirable heroine, a mystery, and lots of weirdness. Reading through some of these reviews, I think the weirdness is offputting to some readers. The weirdness drew me in, enchanted me, and made me fall in love. I can't wait to read more of this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book started off really good. Then she got in the house and everything was so confusing from that point on. I wasn't sure what was going on. But I did enjoy how they fell in love and how difficult it was for Nyx who was eventually torn between killing him and sacrificing her own world for the shake of love.
MonicaEmme More than 1 year ago
I am completely in love with this book. I was completely swept away and fell head over heels in love with Nix, Ignifex and Shade. Rosamund has made a fan out of me.
toreadisdivine More than 1 year ago
So I loved this book. Loved it so much that I cried near to the end cause it was just so sad and I wanted everything to be okay and gosh I’m going to be rambling I think. Ignifex and Nyx are just one of the best things since sliced bread and jello. Not together. That would be gross. But Nyx and Ignifex aren’t! This book is one of the most adorable, most practical, most determined romances that I’ve read so far. Nyx has to make a difficult choice, falls in love with the roguish and ever adorable Ignifex, all while dealing with the fact that she was basically trained to stick a knife in his heart. Obviously she fails at that right off the bat, but it makes for lovely Nyxifex times. I giggled with delight at their romance. So. Darn. Cute. I seriously loved the plot here. I have to admit, the beginning is a bit slow, but press onwards and you’ll be rewarded with a piece of fiction that grips your senses and dangles them in front of your nose like a carrot until you finish the darn thing. The conflict was Beauty and the Beast-esque, but not so much that it wasn’t its own tale. CRUEL BEAUTY holds its own, even when problems rise up that you think are just going to ruin your day. Completely a must-read, and I can’t wait to read Rosamund’s next book. Maybe we’ll hear more about Nyx and Ignifex at some point!
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
   I requested Cruel Beauty when available to request on Edelweiss because I love the disney beauty and the beast, and I had also seen some highly positive reviews from trusted bloggers and wanted to experience for myself.     The beginning of the book wasn't what I expected, and I didn't really get fully into it until Nyx was married and in the castle of the Gentle Lord. It was more about gods and goddesses, and repetitive moanings about her and her sister as well as a rather tedious to me set up of the world. Another thing that was lost in the retelling that was a favorite part of the Beauty and the Beast original was how Beauty sacrificed willingly for her family, and here Nyx really had no choice and she complained about it. However, several of my blogger buddies dubbed this a favorite so I kept with it longer than I might have otherwise.     However, I started liking the world and the story picked up when we met Ignifex and Shade. Both had qualities that made me want to know more about them and this is where I started being interested and invested in the story. I began to respect Nyx more and more because she is downright real. She has love for her sister, but also resents her because her father chose her sister as the one to fawn over and Nyx the one to sacrifice to the gentle Lord. But she doesn't just accept these feelings, she really tries to control and let the love win out.     The love triangle in this one is great. I was especially falling for Shade, and had a few theories about him, but I won't say because it would be a spoiler either way. He could only say certain things, and couldn't betray Ignifex because he was bound to him, but his gentle and believing nature really drew me to him. He helped Nyx when he could and I really pitied but also admired him at the same time for staying strong and still having hope after being imprisoned for so long.      Ignifex was an enigma. He was cruel lots of times, which wasn't a surprise since he is the ultimate deceiver but he also showed concern and care at times when I am sure that he didn't have to. In some ways I come to pity him knowing some of his backstory, but it is hard to keep feeling that when I am reminded of all he did, all the pain he's caused. The romance between the two always took me by surprise seeing his gentler side, but just like Nyx, I questioned it, and wondered what the outcome could possibly be.     Nyx has quite some adventures in exploring Ignifex's house, looking for answers, and trying to make things right, to fulfill her purpose and to find herself freedom.      The ending was perfect for the story. I was kinda confused at what exactly was going on from about 85% up to well, about 95% but still, I think that I know, or at least I pieced together enough that makes me good with the story. I think part of it may be my sickness haze, but I dunno.      Also, the ending was perfect. It somehow wrapped everything I wanted for this story (even when it seemed to be in direct contradiction to each other) and gave Nyx and ending that I couldn't even have conjured up. It had plenty of action, lots of character development and was a satisfying and good read that I am glad I stuck through the slow beginning for.      So, I will say that it was def worth the read, it had a slow (for me) beginning, I was confused at the resolution but it had an enthralling love triangle (that I was right about for once), a main character I came to love for her honesty and a heart-pounding and satisfying ending.  Bottom Line: A fantasy that had me a bit confused at times, slow in the beginning, but made it totally and completely worth it with the most unique love triangle and resolution I've ever read. 
Nadina85 More than 1 year ago
Though Cruel Beauty is marketed primarily as a retelling of Beauty & the Beast, I found it to be more Greek myth than fairy tale. And if you're familiar with Greco-Roman mythos, you'll see notes of it everywhere. It's in the bones, from the setting to the history and definitely in the romance. Cruel Beauty is one of those books that's inspired by rather than retold, and for that, I admire it. Based on some of the other reviews, I was expecting grandiose info dumps and an overly convoluted plot. Fortunately, I didn't see much of that anywhere. I thought the world-building was concise, enough for me to get a good sense of what the kingdom looked like and how it functioned. There's a lot going on and it's easy to get lost so I saw the descriptiveness as a necessary thing. Probably my favourite thing about this book is its characters. Nyx is quite the unlikeable character. In fact, she's downright mean. But she's also incredibly complex and given her situation, being raised as a sacrifice, you totally understand why she is the way that she is. She's bitter and angry and vengeful and I totally felt for her. It makes her hard and hostile and bad-ass. I mean, she punches her demon husband in the face. And then there's Ignifex, the Gentle Lord. The bad guy of all bad guys. But he's not really so bad. Well, he is but he's got his reasons for being so devilish. He's a tortured guy. Like Nyx, he's suffered and that suffering has turned him into an unforgiving, iron-fisted ruler. And it's that suffering that makes him and Nyx the ideal couple. I don't typically like stories solely for the romance, but man, I TOTALLY did here. I ship Nyx and Ignifex SO hard. I loved everything about them -- their cruel banter to the gradual softening towards one another -- it was incredibly entertaining. They go from hate to tolerate to mutual understanding to love in a beautiful way. Now there is a love triangle in the book, however, it's not your average love triangle. It doesn't permeate the whole of the story and, thankfully, is resolved quickly and in a unique sort of way. As for Shade, I wasn't really a big fan. Like the other characters, there is more to him than meets the eye but I was never really sure what to think of him.Aside from the incredible character development, I also have to give Hodge mad props for the uniqueness of this story. She exciting and new. There's a lot going on in this book but she fuses it together in a way that makes sense. You get lost in it entirely. And this is why I think a lot of us love fairy tales. Because they entrance you and encapsulate you in a fantasy, in a thing of beauty. And this is what makes Cruel Beauty so successful. It's whimsical and terrifying and beautiful and cruel all at the same time. So yes, while Cruel Beauty does have its issues, generally speaking, they didn't hinder my enjoyment of the overall story. This is one of those books where its strength lies more in its characters than in the plot. There's magic in it, everywhere, and it completely captivated me, like any good fairy tale will do.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
'Cruel Beauty' is a young adult fantasy/fairy tale retelling of the timeless classic "Beauty and the Beast" - but with a new spin. Like most of my fellow book lovers, "Beauty and the Beast" has always been my favorite fairy tale, mostly because of the moral lesson that it teaches - basically not to judge by appearances. I loved that the author stuck really close to the original story line of the tale, not the sugar-coated Disney version. The setting was magnificent! I loved how the author created the castle in the book - how it appeared as ruins from the outside, but the inside was an ever-changing marvel of a palace. Awesome! I loved exploring the castle with Nyx and finding all the different rooms. The descriptions were written with great details and vivid imagery, so it was easy to immerse myself into the story alongside Nyx. Speaking of her, she was a perfect lead character. I feel like she's one of the most realistic ones I've ever read about. She has great qualities - her loyalty to her family, her village, her strength and determination and her intelligence. On the other hand, she had some flaws and wasn't afraid to voice her opinions about them. She was jealous of her sister and kind of envied her for her ignorance and innocence. She also felt incredibly bitter and angry towards her family - her father, aunt, and sister - because they treated her as a weapon against Ignifex - and not much else. Nyx also goes against the plan when she begins to have feelings for her husband, whom she's supposed to be murdering. All in all, she was a complex character with a well rounded personality. Ignifex was a jerk, for the most part. I just don't see the appeal in bad boys - I never have. I can kinda see how Nyx could start becoming confused by his attitude and actions and eventually fall in love with him. It's all part of the story - to see past outward appearances to what really lies within. Still - he was a jerk for a good portion of the book and there were points when I wanted to stab him myself. The author made an interesting little mystery behind the history of the village and the island - how it became isolated from the rest of the world and ruled over by this terrible guy. I found it all really interesting and loved learning all about how the royal family fell and how the Gentle Lord and the other rulers came to be. I liked trying to figure out what was really going on inside the castle and what the deal was with Ignifex and Shade - who they really were and they got that way. The end of the story surprised me. I don't want any spoilers, but when a huge decision is made, the characters and the reader don't know what will happen afterwards. I liked the twist that it threw into the story and how it made the ending play out as well. Not exactly a perfectly happy ending, but a possible one. Definitely one of the best fairy tale retellings I've read and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves new spins on old tales or just a great fantasy book to get lost inside! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Cruel Beauty is one of those rare novels with which I have a love-hate relationship. The moment I saw the breathtaking cover and read the synopsis, I added it to my 2014 book wishlist as a must-read. Having finished it mere moments ago, I have mixed feelings not just about the anti-climactic ending, but also about the story as a whole.  I think my main issue with this book is, though I got the gist of the story, I was also very confused by the storyline. I understood most of it, and I could see exactly where the author wanted to go with it, but it frustrated me that there were also more than enough instances where I was completely left in the dark. My frustration mounted with the torturously slow pacing, and often I was distracted and had to focus on finding my footing again. The story only hooked me around 65% into the book, and from start to end it is loaded – and I mean loaded – with angst. Never mind the angst, though, the insta-love and love-triangle, and Nyx’s indecisiveness whether she loves or hates Ignifex, Shade, and her family, was emotionally taxing – even more so because I’m not a fan of mushy, clichéd romance. The author tried very hard to make this a deep, meaningful romance in a story that is all about good and evil and beauty within, sacrifices and eternal love. Although she didn’t fail at this, it simply didn’t work for me because I was too distracted with everything I disliked about the romance. However, I did appreciate the lyrical prose and poignant storyline, but it didn’t evoke any feels. I sort of liked Shade (more so in the beginning), and I loved Ignifex’s brazen, mocking taunts and the way he challenges Nyx (more so in the middle), but the closer I got to the conclusion, the less I started to care about these characters. Nyx confused and irritated me with her hot and cold indecisions, and I just didn’t get her. By the end I didn’t care about her, her family or her husband at all. Maybe it’s just me, but if the subtext is anything other than coming to terms with there not being a person alive with an entirely pure heart, I clearly missed whatever deeper meaning this story holds. I would have to actually care enough about the characters to understand any other deeper meanings hidden in this novel.  I was awed by the imaginative world-building and the elements of Greek mythology used as a foundation for it. I was fascinated with the world inside a world concept, and absolutely blown away by the splendor of the narrative. Cruel Beauty has a great number of highlights that makes it a profoundly memorable read, but in the end it wasn’t what I expected. I’d say it was the blatantly overdone romance and the instant love that spoiled it for me, but the sluggish pacing is also at fault here. Oh, and all the chapters spent detailing Nyx’s deep hatred for her family and her new husband which I feel could’ve been summarized skillfully in one or two chapters.  I’ve only read one other retelling of the Beauty and the Beast classic, and that is Beastly by Alex Flinn. If I had to choose which one to recommend between either Beastly or Cruel Beauty, I’d much rather recommend Flinn’s retelling of this much-loved classic. Still, I won’t deter anyone from reading Cruel Beauty either as it most certainly has its own merits if only for the concept, the world-building, the mythology elements, or the lovely prose. Cruel Beauty didn’t do anything for me, but I definitely want to read more novels written by this talented writer. 
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and I might even shout it from the rooftops after reading this book… I. Love. Retellings. Now, not all retellings are created equal. But my word, this one was brilliant. Cruel Beauty was just SO MUCH MORE than the Disney version of Beauty & the Beast that we all know and love. This book is dark. The characters are flawed and complex. The writing was beautiful. The storyline was unique, engrossing and kept me guessing pretty much from beginning to end. Filled to the brim with mythology and magic, secrets and betrayals, this was another of the “unputdownable” variety. There were so many things about this book that were flat out fantastic. The world-building was incredible and the detail was superb. It was easy to get lost inside this world built by the author. As much as I loved the storyline, the characters are what really won me over. There were no “good guys” and “bad guys” here. Each and every single person in the book was so well thought out, well developed that they both had good and bad attributes. No one was entirely innocent. I think that’s part of what kept me guessing the most: what would they do next? What was their motivation? What’s a fairytale retelling without a little romance? Deeply and darkly romantic, Cruel Beauty delivers. The relationship between Nyx and Ignifex was anything but traditional, but that doesn’t make it any less real. It was born out of circumstance and, eventually, a mutual respect for the other. They shared passion and moments that absolutely took my breath away. Nyx was a kickass heroine. She had spunk. She wasn’t content to sit back and just let fate play out as everyone thought it would. She fought back against Ignifex and her growing (and conflicting!) feelings for him. Ignifex was such an interesting version of the Beast and his backstory blew my mind. As did much about this book. If you’re a fan of darker books, and especially retellings, you have to try this one. It was a lot different than I anticipated it would be, but that’s what made me enjoy it as much as I did. I love when a book takes me by surprise… in a good way. :) This one definitely did just that. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
Mel-Loves-Books 3 days ago
I seriously loved this book. It was a bit dark, it took me by surprise, and it was so original. I feel like I could reread this several times and pick up on new metaphors or things I missed the first time. This is a new favorite for me and I certainly intend to read a lot more from this author. The story, the love, the hate, the complications, I thought all of it was beautiful.
Anonymous 5 days ago
I was a little scheptical after reading some of the reviews (I'm rather finicky), but really got sucked into it. Yes, it's wierd, it's fantasy. And yes the main character bounced back and forth between loyalties. Choosing between family and someone you love is never easy. Definitely worth reading
Anonymous 3 months ago
I enjoy young adult fiction novels and since this one is based off the tale of Beauty and the Beast, I was excited. The story is creative and takes on a mystical and magical direction but details can be confusing. If it were written slightly different, I think I would have enjoyed it more. This is the first book I have read by this author.
Anonymous 12 months ago
One of my favorite books ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
pooled ink Reviews: 3.5 stars I found this story half-captivating, half-ho-hum. The writing was executed quite well and the creativity behind the story was enchanting but, hmm…I’m not sure but perhaps I was seeking something a bit…more? While I truly enjoyed reading this book (honest, I did) it only managed to keep me submerged in its world for all too brief moments of time... [read more] CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge is an exquisitely unique re-telling of a classic fairytale with an ancient Greek twist. Love, betrayal, gods, demons, riddles and bargains fill the pages until they are overflowing in crimson. Brand new and yet quite old this story will strike fire into the hearts of soft readers all. Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2016/01/11/cruel-beauty/