Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: Book Review

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Synopsis: 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.

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Date Published: January 28, 2014

No. of Pages: 346

Date Read: April 2016

Source: Fully Booked

REVIEW

Great premise, poor execution.

Oh no, I don’t know how to begin this one.

So when I heard that this one was a Beauty and The Beast retelling I knew then I had to read it. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite childhood fairytale and anything with premise like it appealed to me so much. So naturally, I did expect – a little too much I guess. Well it happens to the best of us, right? When a book sounded that it would be right up your alley, add the fact that it is a retelling of one of your favorite fairytales and all the hype surrounding it, one cannot NOT expect. I mean you’ve been teased enough already, you have no other option but put your whole trust into it. This is why I shy away from reading hyped books, I’m afraid that the hype wouldn’t live up to its promise. And that’s what happened here.

Cruel beauty had the perfect premise, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, a lot. But let me tell you first about the good points. The mention of Mythology was a plus point for me, thanks to this book for another mythology lesson, some of it I already forgot. I liked how the book revolved into the story of greek gods or how they played an enormous part on the overall plot of the book. This added spice into it. Another good point is the uniqueness of the setting, with all the rooms that changes every time, the Hearts (fire, earth, water, air). The element of fantasy was well played out as well.

Now to the issues I had with this book. Let me tell you first that I was confused most of the time. The book really tested my attention skill. It was the only book that I put down every two paragraphs, I don’t know what’s wrong with me when I was reading it. It just wasn’t able to grip me the way a good book should. I always find myself rereading paragraphs because my mind tends to wander off  in the middle of every page, which gets me so frustrated. I found it really hard to concentrate. I don’t know if it is just a case of bad timing or the book is just not doing it for me.

Another issue, was the love triangle. It was weird, for lack of a better term. Just, no. Im not really digging it. Add the instalove (which by now we are all aware of, but for those who has been living under a rock – instalove is instant love, when characters suddenly fell in love with one another with not much basis, when there was the littlest development on their relationship. Much like instant ramen – it will kill you with all its MSG haha. So there’s that. I didn’t quite sit well with me that at one moment Nyx really hated the Gentle Lord and just like that, at another page she loved him completely. NOPE. Just don’t. She was bound to kill the Gentle Lord and save Arcadia for crying out loud, not go falling in love with that Demon – it could have been acceptable if the Gentle Lord did something so grand and profound to warrant Nyx’s love, but as far I remember there was no such thing. So where does this love come from? And can I say Nyx was the most inconsistent character I have ever come across with. She contradicts herself most of the time, at first you’ll understand that she was torn between saving Arcadia and loving the Gentle Lord but as the story went on, it annoyed the wits out of me. I hated that the first 50 pages of the book was  just Nyx whining how much she hated her father for the bargain he had with the Gentle Lord, how she hated her sister and loved her at the same time, for hating that she’d be the one to marry the demon and not her sweet sister and blah blah blah. All this can be condensed into 5 pages or so, but no it went on and on and on.

The book had loose ends, it wasn’t as polished as I hoped it to be. It was very noticeable that the author was in the process of trial and error, testing what works and what doesn’t. I cannot say that this wasn’t my cup of tea, because it is. Fantasy and retelling will always be my favorite, but this book fell a little short. Would i pick up another Rosamund Hodge book? Well yes, I heard Crimson Bound is better than Cruel Beauty so I will still definitely give it a try. Who knows, I might like it. It really had a potential, but the execution wasn’t as solid as I have expected. Based from the issues I had you may think that this is a bad book, but no it isn’t, I enjoyed it nonetheless, it just wasn’t for me I guess.

Rating: FiveStarsInline3.svg

“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense.
But now I knew that every mad word was true.”
― Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty

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