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