ARC #Review: Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe) by Rosamund Hodge
I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Published by: Balzer + Bray on 1/28/2014
Genres: Fairy Tale Retelling, High Fantasy, Mythology, YA
Source: ARC From Publisher
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
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.
Being that Cruel Beauty was one of my MOST anticipated books of 2014, I’m frankly disappointed. I don’t know what I expected – well yes I do, a crazy thought-provoking fantasy that would sweep me away into the world of Beauty and the Beast. I wanted magic and excitement, danger and romance. I wanted an action packed novel full of glorious fun and a dark twisted adventure. Mostly, I wanted a novel I couldn’t put down. But I did put Cruel Beauty down. A lot. In fact, it was difficult for me to keep picking it back up.
With Nyx’s melodramatic inner dialogue, “I hate my sister”, “I love my sister”, I want to kill him”, “I love him”, “no wait I love the other one”, “OMG his lips”, “OMG his eyes”, “I’m going to avenge my mother”, “I hate my father”, “this house is crazy”, “I’m crazy”…. Yes, the whole novel was like that. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. The ONLY redeeming factor for me was that I truly wanted to know who the heck Ignifex and Shade were and if Nyx was going to defeat the Gentle Lord. It was like a really crazy game of CLUE. And piecing all the fragments of the puzzle together kept me entertained enough to finish the book.
Cruel Beauty does not lack originality and is very unpredictable. Demons, mythology, fantasy, a young teenagers’ quest to kill her husband, avenge her mother and save the land– why yes please. Rosamund Hodge is an elegantly wonderful writer and it shows. The words were beautiful and so was the world. However, the extent of the mythology in this novel was just like walking through the Gentle Lord’s house, vast and complex, and sometimes (most of the time) overwhelming. At times, I felt like I needed a BS in Greek Mythology to understand it all. Then the other ten percent of the time, I just wanted to see how it was all going to come together. And I wanted it to work…BAD!! But it failed to sink into my skull. We didn’t connect. At all. I guess I didn’t expect the mythology to be such a prominent factor for the overall story (or the info dumps). I was quickly turned off by it. Still, life must go on and Nyx will slay the Gentle Lord. OORAH! Or not. She changes her mind about a million times within the first 5 minutes of meeting him. Thankfully, I was more interested in the Gentle Lords demonic house and what horrendous creatures lived inside its walls, which again, is what saved it.
Okay, so what did I like? I cared for two things in Cruel Beauty: the house and the mystery. I also adored Nyx when she kept trying to stab the Gentle Lord (which he totally thought was cute by the way). The romance – which if I am to believe this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling should have been grander and EPIC – lacked any true connection. Honestly, there was no real reason for Nyx to fall madly in love with either man. Ignifex was a complete a$$ most of the time and Shade was nice but in a “creepy nice” sort of way. Why is there even this weird love triangle? I think the author rushed the romance so we could get right to discovering the wonders of the house and the mystery of it all. Beauty didn’t love the Beast overnight. I will repeat this again, Beauty did NOT love the Beast overnight. That relationship took time and effort. Two crucial things the romance in Cruel Beauty could have used to its advantage to make this novel seem like the sweeping fantasy that it promises.
Overall, *sighs* I don’t know. *blank stare* Cruel Beauty is hard for me to rate. Most of it was meh and the rest of it was just tolerable. I think there was entirely too much going on and it bogged down the book to the point where it was almost burdensome. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t like it. It just sits there somewhere in the middle.