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Cruel Beauty
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 18, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
CRUEL BEAUTY was an interesting reading experience for me. I am not sure what I think about the story. There were parts of the book I found tedious and I found myself putting the book down frequently to go do something - anything - else. But there was something, beyond my commitment to Amazon Vine to read and review all the books I pick, that kept me picking up the book again.

This book bears some similarities to Beauty and the Beast. Not in the characters though. Beauty was loving, selfless and honorable while Nyx was angry, resentful, and conflicted. Beauty was raised by a loving father; Nyx's father raised her to be a tool for his vengeance for a mistake that he made. Nyx never felt that he loved her or even saw her as a real person. The Beast was the victim of a curse; Ignifex was the victim of his own bargains.

The story takes place in a fairy tale world cut off from the real world. It is ruled by a demon called the Gentle Lord. Because of a bad bargain her father made, Nyx is required to marry the Gentle Lord which is a fate that frightens her. She has been trained to assassinate him which her father and his group believes will free their world to be part of the real world again.

When Nyx enters the castle she discovers her new husband who tells her to call him Ignifex and learns that she can be free if she guesses his name but will die if she guesses incorrectly. As they spend time together, Nyx begins to fall in love with him despite her vow to kill him. After all, he is the only one who sees all of her, both the evil and the good, and loves her anyway. But she also meets Shade who is Ignifex's shadow and who only becomes human at night. His kindness and willingness to help her to the limits of his ability makes Nyx fall in love with him too.

There were no heroes in this story. Everyone was some shade of villain. While this makes the story more realistic, it does make it harder to know who the reader should root for. Also, no one was quite who they seemed to be. Since the story is told in the first person from Nyx's point of view, we get to know her best. The only problem is that she doesn't know herself very well and she is so conflicted about what she wants to do. She is torn between her vows for vengeance and her love for Ignifex, her concern for the fate of her world and for her own happiness.

The story is complex and based on Greco-Roman mythology. Nyx needs to unravel clues and explore the castle to find out if she can keep her vow and kill Ignifex without destroying her whole world. While I resented the infodump that consumed the first two chapters of the book, it did provide necessary information about the world and the characters. I just think it could have been integrated more seamlessly into the story.

My favorite parts of the book were the conversations between Ignifex and Nyx as they were sparring and getting to know each other. They were like gold nuggets sprinkled through the story.

Readers who are fans of lush language and fantasy will enjoy this debut novel. While I didn't find it completely successful, I know I will be thinking about it for a long time.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cruel Beauty was the type of book that sucked me down into its pages and never let me go. I devoured it, eager to know what would happen next, yet I was sad when it was over and there was nothing left to read. It was one of those rare reading experiences where I was totally engrossed and totally satisfied.

The setting of this book is one of its strongest points. I had such a solid sense of place that whenever I opened the book's pages, I felt like I was transported to a different world. The book is an interesting mixture of Greek mythology incorporated into a fantasy universe, and it really worked. Each element of the setting seemed to make sense within the context of the story, and I especially loved the Gentle Lord's mansion, the descriptions of which leap off the page due to their lushness. The sense of atmosphere was so strong that I could not only picture the world, I felt like I could hear it and smell it as well. I love it when a book makes me feel this way, and I always make note of it because it's something that doesn't happen all that often.

If I have one caveat about the book, it's that some of the elements of Nyx's relationship with Ignifex (aka the Gentle Lord) are problematic. If this book weren't set in a fantasy world, they might have rubbed me the wrong way, but given the supernatural elements and the fantastical setting, I thought it made sense within the book's context for Nyx to react as she does. Neither of them cause harm to the other, but they don't initially have what I would think of as a healthy relationship.

This is partially due to the volatility of the two main characters, an aspect of the novel I also liked. Nyx is filled with terrible thoughts and violent emotions, which I found very realistic. I liked that Hodge didn't try to smooth away the rough edges, something that happens far too often in YA fiction. Given how Nyx is raised, it makes sense that she would be filled with bitterness, and that she would sometimes manifest that bitterness in counterproductive ways. Nyx is messy and complicated, just like actual human beings.

Ignifex is also fascinating, as is his counterpart, Shade. They appear like two sides of the coin: Ignifex the merciless, heartless Gentle Lord who tricks humans into making terrible bargains, and Shade the gentle servant who tries to shield Nyx. Yet Ignifex has a softer side and Shade has a much sharper side. The mixture of the good with the bad makes the characters interesting, and the fact that they're victims of their circumstances gives good insight into their characters, their actions speaking volumes about the person they are on the inside. I also found Ignifex's arguments about the humans who strike their unholy bargains with him to be interesting. There's quite a lot of commentary in the book about human frailty and the terrible things people do, and I thought Hodge presented a fascinating exploration of the darker side of human nature.

Yet, despite its dark tone, there is hope here. None of the characters are purely good, but none of them are purely bad either, and I liked the nuanced shades of each of them. In many ways, the problems of all of these characters can be boiled down to one simple fact: they're all viewing the world from a skewed perspective, and it colors how they see things and how they react to them. It's an interesting theme to consider, especially because it's prone to happen to the best of us in real life. Even so, there's an undercurrent of hope here, and there are moments of simple humanity that underscore the fact that, doomed as it seems, Nyx's world isn't an entirely bad place. I thought this was deftly done, because in life it's often the small acts of grace that have the most impact.

The writing in this book is lovely too. It's not pretentious, but I found the style lyrical, and there's a sort of dreamlike quality to the book. The way Hodge uses language creates such a sense of place and gives the characters such emotional depths without coming across as melodramatic or overly done.

This is the kind of book where, when I'm finished, I immediately want to run and get the next book by the author. Sadly, this is her only book so far, so I suppose I'll have to be patient and wait for her next. She's a promising voice in YA fantasy fiction, and I'm very eager to read more works by her.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
CRUEL BEAUTY, were do I even begin?

I have such mixed feeling about this one! While I liked it, I didn't love it like I thought I would. When I seen a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that sounded as beautiful and amazing as CRUEL BEAUTY did, I was jumping up and down!! I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Which I'm really surprised I waited as long as I did to read it!! Beauty And The Beast was/IS my favorite Disney fairytale of all time!! There's some fairytales that come close, but nothing as much as I love Beauty And The Beast! So I was hyped to get lost in the story. But sadly, something about CRUEL BEAUTY did not work for me. :/

I listened to most of it on audio, while I read some of it from my physical copy. It was only my second audiobook ever, so it was a little different listening to it then reading the whole thing. And I wasn't a fan of the narrators voice and her story telling. So that could of very well have played a part into me not loving CRUEL BEAUTY. Now, that said, I did NOT hate CRUEL BEAUTY, not even close! I really enjoyed it, but not like I thought I would, and definitely not loved it like I hoped for.

LET ME TRY TO EXPLAIN.

I'm not a huge fan of Mythology, and some of the parts were A LOT a little confusing for me. With enchanted room after room, all the back story that played into this novel, and the plot that kept changing course, it just got to be too much for me. I guess I got overwhelmed by the amount of info that was dropped on us at one time. I still can't really tell you why most of the things that happened in CRUEL BEAUTY happened. What was the cause and reasoning? I can't answer that either. Nope, that's how much I got lost in the story, and not the lost like wow, this is amazing! No, the lost like wandering, not knowing where it's going or what's going on!

Another thing that disconnected me from the book was that I wasn't that attracted to the characters. And that is always something I need to be able to connect with the book. If the character(s) aren't someone that I care about, well then the story just goes down hill for me. If an author can make me care about their characters, then the plot will become secondary for me. But I did not find that connection here in CRUEL BEAUTY with any of the characters. So that was a big let down.

But I loved the idea of the book. I loved that it was a Beauty And The Beast retelling. That it had magic, and fantasy that was enchanting and unpredictable. That the main character was strong and didn't give up no matter what obstacles were thrown in front of her. That their was an evil so wicked and terrifying, that it could bring whole kingdoms down. The elegant writing and beautiful story telling that was perfect for a Beauty And The Beast retelling. That it reminded us that beauty is skin deep.

Now, for my review of CRUEL BEAUTY in a GIF!!
NOTE, I could not add GIF's (Pictures)

A kingdom in despair, doomed if not saved!

2 sisters, one safe and secure for a happy life. The other, ultimately doomed from birth. Turned over for a sacrifice to save their people.

A Prince of shadow demons, ruler of all evil in their world!

A gentle lord disguised as a monster, only to be as gentle as his title.

An enchanted castle, with room upon room of enchanted findings.

A mythology background that feeds the story.

Evil Shadow creatures lurking, just waiting for the chance to strike and bring pain, suffering and death to their world.

One saying that must never be forgotten:

"Don't look at the Shadow's too long or a Demon might look back.

A girls heart revealed. Her desire and density intertwined as one.

One heart fighting for the enemy, determined to prove his worth.

And ultimately, a damaged girl just wanting to be loved. Needing to matter to someone. A risk that will either save her people or doom them.

2 lives, 1 destiny, a battle against all odds! A sacrifice that will save them or doom them all.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Yeah, I definitely like the sound of that. But for me it didn't play out like that. It dragged in a lot of places, and I felt bored trapped in room after room of confusing back story, and mythology that I just could not understand, or really didn't care to understand.

So, will I read the next book in the CRUEL UNIVERSE Series? Who knows? Probably not, but depending on how the blurb for that one sounds, I might. But if I do decide to give it a shot, it will be in a book, NOT an audiobook!! I just could not get into the narrator Elizabeth Knowelden's story telling!

Overall, CRUEL BEAUTY is a great read, but turned out not to be for me. I understand why so many people loved it! It has so many amazing interest, and beautiful writing that many could grasp onto and love.

NOTE: I received an ARC for reviewing purposes! All opinions express are my own, and are not influenced in any way!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix of Greek Mythology. The story opens on a very stiff and formal life for the main character Nyx like a dark version of Downton Abbey. Then we get a nice, long lecture on How This World Works that I found hard to get through.

I was entertained by the story but I really didn’t like the cop-out device of Nyx having “no choice” to create these dramatic situations. Nyx is engaged to a demon since birth because her father made a bargain and now she has no choice but to marry him. This bothers me for two reason. 1. It takes away the self-sacrifice element of Beauty and the Beast that I love but, more importantly, think was the main point of the fairy tale. 2. Her dad is an idiot. And 3 — okay apparently there are more than reasons why this bothers me — she doesn’t “have” to do anything. It made the main character seem very passive about her life. She was very negative and spiteful all the time. I didn’t like her all that much, which is fine, but if she’s going to be unlikable then at least make me understand why she did things. I never understood why she did things.

I did like the quest of trying to find the demon’s name which was one of the few elements remaining from the original fairy tale. The castle was a wonderful adventure full of strange rooms like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I didn’t like it. I felt like the ending did not have anything to do with what they had been doing for almost the whole novel. I felt like we spent the whole novel doing one thing and she suddenly decides to change course and last minute do something very drastic. And as the books comes to a close, I felt like the characters were so completely different that they weren’t even the same characters anymore. They felt like strangers and I didn’t care all that much what happened to them.

Overall, it was too dark of a fairy tale retelling with poor world building and unlikable characters that just wasn’t for me even though I did like the Greek Mythology element of the story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 13, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cruel Beauty is one of those wonderfully imaginative tales with characters who are so alive, and a plot so thoroughly good that it's a shame when it ends!

Nyx Triskelion, since before she was born, has had a destiny that was thrust upon her by a cruel bargain between her cold, unfeeling father, and the ruler of her domain, the Gentle Lord. However, the title "Gentle Lord" is but a mockery as he is a cold blooded demon that has enslaved Arcadia. Nyx's home has been cut off from the world for hundreds of years by the Gentle Lord, master of the demon shadows that haunt every individual. Her world consists of a parchment sky, her sun simply a mere figment of the natural light the true sun gave. But due to the bargain made by her father, she is to be the next bride of the Gentle Lord. And all her life she has trained in the hermetic arts to defeat him in order to save all of Arcadia. However, she was in for the biggest shock when she finally meets her new husband. He's everything and nothing like she expected. He's brash, full of arrogance, mockery, sarcasm, and yet...he's also endearing, witty, and fun. Nyx knows that the demon of bargains is quite possibly toying with her, and she still endeavors to find a way to destroy him especially as she finds another captive soul in the house, but she's slowly losing ground in the face of new truths. With so many people relying on her, Nyx soon finds her emotions and actions at a stalemate. The good perfect daughter that she has always been is fighting with the inner girl that no one really saw. The one with the spit and courage to face a legion of demons and walk away. A girl who speaks her mind, and lets her witty nature show. A girl who faces a house that is nothing but riddles with ever changing rooms. And a girl who is slowly losing her heart to her new husband. But Nyx cannot deny that she gave a promise to defeat the Gentle Lord, and in order to save all those she holds dear, she'll find the courage to sacrifice the one thing she has always longed for...true love.

Cruel Beauty a must read!!! I found that this tale is likened unto Beauty and the Beast, but I have to say that I find it resembles a book by Anne Logston, Guardian's Key, more than any other tale (or perhaps they both originated from the same concept). They both have basically the same plot, the same type of house with the multitude of doors and ever changing rooms, the same riddle solving female, and the same brooding, sarcastic lord of the house. But still Cruel Beauty is definitely one of my favorite tales for the new year! The characters were easy to empathize with, with such a witty dialogue that I found myself fully immersed into the book hours later! The plot had the book moving at a quick pace, and nowhere did it lag even once. The opening of the book immediately holds her attention all the way through to the end, and it truly is one wonderful read! The only mild complaint I had was the ending was not what I personally thought it would be like. It was good, don't get me wrong, I was just imagining a different sort of ending, and I felt it was just slightly anti-climactic. Other than that Cruel Beauty is on the top of my list for 2014 must read novels!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This review originally appeared on my blog, There Were Books Involved.

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My feelings towards Cruel Beauty are extremely complicated — or rather, extremely diverse. There were things I really enjoyed, which make me want to rate this one 4 stars; but on the other hand, there are things that really frustrated me, which make me want to rate it… well. Lower.

One unexpected thing, which I really enjoyed, was the Greek mythology that’s woven into the story. I had assumed that this would be a straightforward retelling in a sort of newish world, and I totally didn’t see the Greek stuff coming at all. Actually, I’m pretty sure there were also a few other fairy tales in there, too. But yeah, I really liked everything about the worldbuilding and mythology, and I found that really engaging even when the characters or story got kind of frustrating.

Another thing that surprised me was the love triangle — yes, there is one. Wellll… kind of. And I appreciated that it wasn’t actually your normal love triangle. I’m not sure if I’ve made up my mind yet, on whether it’s a good-different or bad-different sort of situation, but if nothing else, I do think it makes for a pretty interesting part of the story.

My only real problem with any of the romance in Cruel Beauty is the insta-love (and I do mean insta-love). First there’s Ignifex, the evil Lord Nyx is trying to overthrow, and whom Nyx is very much dead-set against falling for. Aaaaand… then there’s Shade. Nyx’s reaction to Shade was insta-love in the extreme — it was jarring and felt really odd (honestly, her character didn’t really make sense to me at all — more on that later). Her relationship with Ignifex was miles better, for me. Actually, Ignifex was probably my favorite character in the whole book — at first he’s pretty much what you’d expect from the “beast” character, maybe a little more manipulative and cunning. But then as you learn more about him and his situation, he grew on me a lot. So I’m a fan of his for sure.

Nyx herself was extremely hair-pull-inducing. She seemed to be constantly changing her mind and feelings. I’ve heard some people say that this makes her more believable, which I can buy to an extent — feelings are complicated. I get that. But to me, her wildly changeable feelings felt extremely jarring, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around her. Also, her actions consistently contradicted what she’d been brought up and trained from birth to do. She’s been preparing to overthrow Ignifex for years, and within the first few days of arriving at his palace, she turns into someone who loses sight of her goals in favor of being emotionally strung out about Ignifex and Shade. She still tries to do what she’s been trained to do in order to overthrow Ignifex, but it never felt like a priority, or like there was any kind of tension behind it. Which was disappointing.

I’m also not a huge fan of Cruel Beauty‘s ending, like… at all. Having guessed how the “love triangle” would play out, that resolution was a little anti-climactic for me. I actually grew to love Ignifex by the end, and so… you know, at the end, how the beast has to change back into the wonderful prince? Yeah… I kind of didn’t want him to. -_-

Also, the resolution to Nyx’s town’s/world’s predicament was handled in a way that I never enjoy… I know that’s just my own pet peeve, but still. (Vague spoilers ahead…) It really annoys me when the resolution to any plot is to use some kind of Big Red Reset Button to “fix” everything. I always feel like it ruins the story that preceded it, and this case was no different.

As a result of this mode of resolution, there are a bunch of weird character-”development” twists at the end, which I thought were a liiiitle too convenient. Maybe the conclusion was too rushed to really deal with these changes appropriately… I feel like probably not, though. It felt strange and disorienting, and that’s not how I like books to be resolved.

In conclusion...

I’ve never felt so completely torn about a book before. Most of what I explained above is negative, yes, and I feel very strongly about those things: I did not enjoy those things. But… the things I did enjoy — Ignifex himself, and the Greek mythology, OH!! and Ignifex’s castle with its changing rooms and staircases (that was awesome) — I really enjoyed those things. Like, 4-star-level enjoyed them — they’re what kept me interested in Cruel Beauty, to be honest. I still can’t get over (what I see as) Nyx’s inconsistencies of character, or the way the resolution was handled… But I can’t get over Ignifex or the mythology either. So, though there were things that disappointed me overall, I think I’d still recommend this book if those sound like things you’d enjoy, as well.

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Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I finished reading Cruel Beauty a few days ago and I'm still trying to get my thought process together. I love retellings and there were things I really liked about the book and then there were certain things that I didn't.

One thing for sure I enjoyed about the novel as a whole was the characters I found it so different to read a book where there was no one not even the main heroine who was just a good natured human being. Instead every character had qualities that would make you never want to know the person in real life, but with that all being said I still really liked Ignifex and Nyx which honestly I'm still trying to figure out why...and when it comes down to it I think they had every right to be the way they were due to the injustice that was given to them especially Nyx I can understand why she despised her sister, and hated her father. As for Ignifex I didn't know what to make of him until we learned that he wasn't as much in control of things as we thought he was.

As far as the romance I really started to enjoy the relationship between Ignifex and Nyx. What I didn't care for was the brief love triangle we encountered although I have to give it to the author it was unique and for that I'm so grateful.

One thing that bugged me the most was the pacing. The book started off very slow for me with a ton of info dumping about the world and it's mythology I kind of found myself a little confused but things started making sense as the story progressed. I loved the middle of the book I think I flew through those pages and nothing was able to keep me from devouring those pages, and then the ending came and I don't know I felt like I was expecting more then the way it wrapped up.

Overall I liked the book it wasn't the greatest retelling I've read but if your a fan of fantasy, fairy tale retellings and Greek mythology along with some pretty awesome world building I would say check it out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Such a beautiful cover for a book I felt so meh about . . . I wanted to love this story so much, but I just could not get into is. I ended up finishing the story, despite my desperate need to DNF, but I would say I skimmed more than I actually read.

Cruel Beauty is not your typical Beauty and the Beast retelling, which was a factor I did enjoy. Nyx has been "trained" since she was nine years old to kill the Gentle Lord once she marries him - part of a bargain her father made long before she was born. She is meant to avenge her mother's death and save their people from 900 years of being ruled by the Gentle Lord and tormented by his demons. Of course, once she becomes his captive wife, they soon fall in love with one another and Nyx becomes torn as to whom she should betray: her kingdom or her husband.

It took me about a week to get through this book. I'd read a little, get bored and put it down, read a little, get bored and put it down . . . you get the idea. I finally sat down on a Sunday and forced myself to finish it. I wanted to like it, I really really did.

I have a hard time connecting with our main character, Nyx. Yes, she's in a terrible situation and has the fate of herself and her kingdom on her shoulders, but I find her so wishy-washy that it was beyond frustrating. She loves Ignifex, screw the kingdom. But this is her kingdom and she has a duty, screw Ignifex. I honestly found zero redeeming qualities about her character and just wanted to punch her in the face. I found Ignifex to be far more interesting than Nyx herself, but we only saw him interacting with Nyx and it tarnished my enjoyment of his character.

I was also pretty bummed by the romance. There was no slow burn the accompanies the tale of Beauty and the Beast, a slight love triangle - no love triangles in this tale as old as time! - and the mention of "love" on her first night. It wasn't quite the insta-love that I have seen in some novels, but it was pretty darn close. While Nyx was there for a couple months before anything actually happened, there wasn't a lot that actually happened between the two of them to make the relationship believable. It was like Nyx went to bed one night hating Ignifex and planning to kill him, then woke up completely in love.

The writing however was beautifully done. Rosamund did a nice job of creating a new world that held elements of dystopia, fantasy, mythology, and classic fairy tales. While I had mostly skimmed the book, something kept me skimming and I believe a large part of that was due to her writing style. I didn't love Cruel Beauty, but nor did I hate it. That being said I think it's worth trying it out for yourself and chances are I'll be giving Gilded Ashes a chance.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 24, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nyx was raised to marry a monster. She has always known she would marry a beast on her seventeenth birthday. She has been betrothed to the Gentle Lord since the disastrous day her father's bargain blew up in his face--as bargains with demons generally do.

Nyx has been training for just as long to kill the Gentle Lord and free her people from his curse which surrounds their kingdom. It's unlikely Nyx will survive this mission. Sometimes she isn't even sure she will succeed. But isn't it a worthy goal to die saving her people? Isn't that something a normal girl without hate coursing through her veins would be eager to do?

As she is dressed and dragged through a sham wedding, Nyx is far from eager.

Inside the Gentle Lord's castle she expects to find a ravening demon and a heap of ruins. Instead Nyx finds luxurious surroundings and Ignifex--a husband who is an charming as he is infuriating. As she learns more about Ignifex and the strange shadow that follows him everywhere, Nyx is torn between her sense of duty and her sense of what is right. The longer she spends in the castle, the more likely it seems that Nyx has had everything very, very wrong in Cruel Beauty (2014) by Rosamund Hodge.

Cruel Beauty is Hodge's first novel.

Hodge draws on Greek mythology and fantasy elements to create an enchanting world filled with magic and demons; a world where bargains always have a price.

Nyx is a flawed, selfish heroine. And, given her upbringing, understandably so. She is realistic about her own faults as well as the limitations of her surroundings which makes her a very prickly, often angry, narrator. She isn't always sympathetic but never doubt that she is interesting.

By comparison, Nyx's new husband Ignifex is decidedly dull. Their romance, such as it is, is never quite as believable as this premise demands.

Ultimately the biggest problem with Cruel Beauty is that the underlying premise feels very seedy. Nyx is meant to seduce Ignifex and then kill him--essentially prostituting herself to save her people. The preoccupation in the first fifty pages with making Nyx look a delectable bride and easy to strip come the wedding night is decidedly uncomfortable.

This story should have a strong heroine and that heroine should be Nyx. She rails against the lot she has been given. She is furious about the societal constraints that have shaped her life. Then she meets her husband and tears open her own dress saying she is desperate for his touch to deflect any consequences from threatening to kill him. It all felt very clumsy and disagreeable.

Aside from the character issues, Hodge works with a lot of source material in Cruel Beauty. There are several references to Greek myths and fairies in this supposed retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Toward the end elements of the legend of Tam Lin also appear. While all of these things are interesting and have the potential to create a wonderful story, together it became a rather jumbled world with a lot of moving parts to follow just to understand the background of the story.

Possible Pairings: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Entwined by Heather Dixon, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Cruel Beauty was a lot of things. A good book. A slice of frustration. A really cool read. A big ball of confusion. A creative retelling. Ultimately, though, it was a book that gave me the most mixed and most conflicted feelings I've ever had over a book. There were parts that made no sense and gave me the urge to rant. There were other parts that made me think I was reading something immensely cool and interesting. It was a book that was both amazing and so incredibly disappointing at the same time. I laughed. I ranted (mentally). I was thrilled. I felt a heavy cloud of disappointment hanging over me. I felt like a black sheep most of the time, despite the fact that I a) didn't hate the book nearly as much as a black sheep would, and b) apparently, I'm not the only person with mixed views of the book.

All of my reactions to the book may not . . . make sense, but don't worry, they do not make any sense to me either. That's why this book was one of the most confusing pieces of YA fiction that I've ever read.

There were three big things that stood out to me: two things that made the book amazing and one thing that made this book disappointing.

THE WORLD

My favorite part of this entire book was the world. It confused me half the time. I'm still not exactly sure about many of why's and how's of some pieces of the world and the things that occurred in it, but it was quite new, different, and overall, creative. It was really interesting, and I really liked the Greek mythology tie-ins and the twists the author made to them. If you're looking for a world different from the usual fantasy, you should definitely check this one out.

UNPREDICTABLE

This book was so unpredictable. I actually did see one of the biggest twists of the book a mile away (or, well, the moment Nyx met Ignifex), but as for the rest? Nada. I didn't expect the things that happened to take place, especially the ending. It's definitely . . . unique, and a little confusing as well. I really liked it, though. I like surprises, and I love clever endings.

Many of readers would enjoy the fact that this book isn't so predictable. A lot of readers complain of predictability, but that is something I don't see many people having a problem with when it comes to this book.

MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT

The romance. It killed the book for me.

I consider the kissing to be the root of all my issues with this book. I didn't understand why the characters did it and how it even happened. The kisses would just come out of no where—BAM—and I would just throw my hands up and say, "why are you kissing!?" Any lead up was lost on me. The connection, the chemistry, any smidgen of passion or love . . . it didn't sense it. It felt terribly dry, so every time something romantic happened, I didn't understand it. Instead I got really confused and, in one spot, it confused me so much that I had to put down the book and read a few other books to take a break. (It's a good thing I did that, by the way, or my rating may not be this high.) My heavy disappointment of this book stemmed from the lack of connection I felt in the characters' own connections with each other. I loved Ignifex and Nyx (not Shade, though—oh, how irritated he made me), but I just didn't see the feeling or the attraction that warranted the grand romance and "I-love-you's" of this book.

OVERALL

Do I recommend it? YES. Definitely. Why? It's interesting. It's unpredictable. It's unlike many books. It has an awesome heroine. It has a super amazing world that may confuse you at times, but will intrigue you at the same time. Cruel Beauty is worthy of at least an attempt at reading. Despite the fact that I hated the romance, and despite the fact that I was quite disappointed in the book, I still see it as a book many, many readers will enjoy. Don't let my personal issues with the romance deter you from giving this book a shot. You may love it! You just need to experience the book for yourself to figure out if it works for you or not.

Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
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