Review of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty
By: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray

An advanced copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:

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.

The Story:
I’m pretty mixed on my feelings regarding Cruel Beauty. I loved the creativity Hodge brought to her reworking of the classic tale. The main story arc was surprising as well as interesting and I found the idea behind the Beast’s curse to be beautifully done (I can’t reveal much since spoilers). Hodge has a beautiful writing style that is easy to read and flows very well. The pacing was fast for the most part and I was interested in the story immediately.

What I didn’t like was the romance and Nyx’s internal dialog (which I’ll discuss in the character section of my review). I felt like Nyx and Ignifex had very little, if any, chemistry and I think their relationship lacked the slow burn that I look for in any retelling of Beauty and the Beast. To me, the most beautiful aspect of the original story is the journey for the two to get to know one another and see beyond the façade to what makes the other tick. Sadly, I didn’t really get that feeling in Cruel Beauty. The relationship felt disjointed and the love missed the mark for me.

The Characters:
Nyx’s character fought many internal struggles through-out this story. She felt guilt and resentment in equal parts, her constant flip flopping between emotions was understandable but grew to be grating after reading many pages dedicated to it. I did feel that her character developed over the course of the story and I appreciated her strength and determination in her duties.

Ignifex had an interesting back- story though I wished I had a better sense of him than I did. I loved his justifications for why he acted the way he did. I felt he brought some intriguing arguments and really had Nyx contemplating what truly makes one evil. Overall, I liked where Hodge took his story but I felt that I needed just a little more depth and detail to really flesh him out to me.

Another character I have to include is Shade. He is a major player in Nyx and Ignifex’s story though I can’t go into any details without revealing spoilers. I will say that he frustrated me and the ease in which Nyx trusted him was much too fast in my opinion. He really did add some intriguing aspects to the story-arc though and I do think that I might have had the strongest emotions regarding his character and actions.

Final Thoughts:
It’s really hard for me to rate Cruel Beauty. I loved the overall story and felt that it was an original take on the classic. Hodge has a very easy-to-read style and her writing is elegant and flows beautifully. On the other hand, I felt the romance could have used some depth and I wished I had connected more with Nyx.

Cruel Beauty Book Trailer:


  1. says

    OMG, this synopsis looks so good. I think I’m already feeling their chemistry a little bit. It’s a bummer that the romance was not well written because if I read this, I’m probably going for the love story 😛 Still, I’m very interested in the story arc plus I dig fairytale retellings so much, I’m sure I will enjoy this one 🙂 Nice review!

  2. Thao Nguyen says

    What an interesting twist on Beauty and the Beast. I absolutely love fairy tale remakes and from your view there’s a good chance this book will be enjoyable. I’ll be keeping an eye out for this. Thanks for the share 🙂

    • says

      Most reviews I’ve seen really love this one. I seem to be in the minority with my disconnect from the characters and romance. I hope you read it soon and love it! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. says

    After Marissa Meyer’s books, I’m totally in love with fairy-tale retellings. I LOVE the sound of this but I’m a bit worried about the narrator now. I don’t like not connecting with the characters. 🙁 Characters are my favourite part of reading! And I feel like, with a story like Beauty and the Best, the romance should be strong. But I’m still giving this one a go!

    • says

      I wish I had an easier time connecting to Nyx. I wanted to so badly. I went into this book thinking I would love every aspect–possibly my expectations were too high? It was enjoyable overall though.

  4. says

    I’m not sure how much I’d like this one since my favourite books are ones where I can connect well with the main characters. I also love a good romance but then again, this book sounds amazing! I’ve seen it around a lot and the idea is definitely intriguing. I’m definitely putting this one on my radar but I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on it. 😀

    • says

      My favorite books tend to have characters I relate to as well. This book had some really amazing aspects that I think cancel out the meh ones pretty well. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. says

    I think your review is the first so-so opinion that I’ve seen of CRUEL BEAUTY. I’ve yet to read it myself, so I’m curious about how I’ll feel about it. Your comments about the romance give me pause, but I have high hopes! Thanks for the review!

    • says

      I know…most people are seeming to adore this book 100%. I wish I could have gotten over the meh romance and connected with the leads a bit more. Overall it was a very enjoyable read and worth it. I hope you enjoy it!

    • says

      You know, I’d not really noticed that until writing the review. Is that bad that while reading it didn’t really strike me? Hrm. Curious to see your thoughts on this one.

  6. says

    Aw, I’m sorry that you didn’t love this book. I did, but I do understand your feelings about it 🙂 Though, hih, I did love the romance (A) but I do understand your feelings. Thank you for sharing your awesome review 🙂

    • says

      I wanted to love this one so very much but ended up being meh. I’m so happy it worked for you though. I will def be reading more of Hodge’s writing…she has such a beautiful style.

  7. says

    Great review as always Kristen!
    I’m not entirely sure of I’d like it or not, given that I’m not usually a fan of retellings (Alice in Wonderland ones aside, Splintered was brilliant and I love seeing new twists on that story). I’ll probably give it a try but I’m not gonna be reading it as soon as it releases for sure,

    • says

      You know, I really like retellings and reworkings of fairy tales and classics. I was so excited about this one and really was sad that it fell a bit flat for me. Overall enjoyable but lacking in that one aspect of character connection for me.

  8. says

    I have this for review and will be reading it soon, so it’s interesting to see other bloggers’ thoughts. I do have to say before I’ve even read it that the name “Ignifex” just makes me laugh. I hope there’s a good reason the author chose that name!

    • says

      haha! I didn’t really focus on the names until I started writing the review and then it struck me how similar their names are and how odd his is. I hope you enjoy this one when you get around to it.

  9. says

    I loved the idea for this one too! I had a huge problem with the romance, there seems to be too much of it and it felt forced at times. But I really liked Nyx and even more The Gentle Lord. I mean, he’s so calm and his justification towards the things he does. Lovely! Great review! I think we had the same feelings towards most thing concerning this novel.

    • says

      I really enjoyed The Gentle Lord and I would like to read a novella focusing on him. I actually think I would have connected better if it had been from his POV. I totally agree that the romance felt forced. Thank you for stopping by Abbe!

  10. says

    The cover for this is absolutely devine, I’m reading this one soon so I skimmed your review. It’s a shame that the romance lacked some depth! I heard there’s a love triangle and insta-love so I’ll have to go in with lower expectations.

    Lovely review, hun! <33

  11. says

    I’ve seen the same complaint from a lot of others…the story was great except for the romance, that love triangle or whatever. I still really want to read it because I’ve always loved Beauty and the Beast, but at least now I know to go in with somewhat diluted expectations. I really do love that cover, though.

    • says

      Oh, glad I’m not alone in my complaints. I was feeling a bit like a black sheep because I kept seeing really wonderful things. I really wonder how you’ll feel about it…can’t wait to read your review.

  12. says

    Wonderful review, I’m just starting this and I’m trying to keep my expectation reasonable since Beauty and Beast is one of my favourite fairy tales. I”m to hear there’s a nice elegant flow! But I’m sad to hear there’s less connection with the romance (which I was sorta hoping would be the highlight of the book). Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      I love Beauty and the Beast too. Always been one of my favorites so I really looked forward to read this retelling. I’ll be curious to hear what you think about it.

  13. says

    I had similar feelings about this one. I liked it overall, and thought it was imaginative and beautifully written, but I still don’t think it quite worked for me in the way that I wanted it to. The romance was an issue for me as well, but I did appreciate the complexity of Ignifex’s character. It’s an odd one. I’ll be interested to see what Rosamund Hodge writes in the future though. Great review, Kristen!

    • says

      I’m glad to hear you felt the same as I did about this one. Story was beautifully done but the romance missed the mark. I really appreciated Ignifex’s character too and look forward to reading Hodge’s next book. Thank you Sam 🙂

  14. says

    Lovely review! I just finished this and really enjoyed it. I loved that Hodge did such an awesome job of retelling the story with her own twist. I do agree about the romance though, I wish there was more of a build up. It seemed a bit sudden that Nyx was in love with Ignifex without us getting to see them really learn more about each other. Thanks for sharing!

  15. says

    I have heard so much good stuff about this book, and I actually think that I should read it as well after reading all those reviews about it. Thanks for reminding me that I should really add this novel to my Goodreads list!

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