by Rosamund Hodge
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
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
🌹 The setting and the retelling aspect! I love how creative the author was: I can see the elements of the original story but it’s not quite the same. Cruel Beauty felt like a different story, with how the aspects are used to build the new elements. I especially love the backstory of the curse! I also love how the world carries traces of Greek and Roman mythology and how it affected their present conditions.
🌹 The setting is just really well-developed and clever, with it’s magic system and folktales and custom. Even without the role they played in the story, I enjoyed reading about them.
🌹 Ignifex. I’m such a sucker for mischievous, sassy male characters and he’s no different!
🌹 It was just immersive?? I love how easy it was for me to lose myself in this book, with its magic, and curses, and enemies to lovers. And of course, magical castle with magical rooms that changes according to its own whims that you might not know which room you might find yourself. It was the perfect distraction.
What I Didn’t Like
🥀 The main character, Nyx. First of all, she is very self-centered with how her monologue revolved around her and her only, how she was not loved and destined to marry a monster, but also the only hope for her country. How Shade must have loved her and then how Ignifex reacted to her must prove something. Second, I think because of how neglected and alone she felt, she fell in love really fast and convinced herself that the other parties loved her too by overanalyzing their reactions. It’s honestly really annoying and I ended up skimming some parts of the romance that I was really eager to devour.
🥀 As she fell in love really fast, the romance is very insta-lovey. She came in to kill Ignifex but can’t help falling for him immediately 🤷♀️
🥀 While I love the setting, I wish we got to explore more about the magic system since it played an integral part at first and then it just disappear
🥀 The writing felt choppy to me. Like there were times when Nyx were thinking or conversing with Ignifex and yet what comes next were not really connected with what I was reading, if that makes sense? There were parts that I had to reread so I could understand what was going on and how Nyx could come to that conclusion.
I think I would love it more if I read it when I was younger or when it was first released, where the hype around this book was insane. And yet 7 years later, I think Cruel Beauty still held up really well! Despite not clicking with the main character and found myself losing my place in the book a few times, it was the perfect book to lose myself with magical setting and creative plot. It felt exactly like a dark fairytale I was looking for and I’m definitely going to be reading more books from the author!