Hello and happy Friday! I'm working this weekend but still plan to have a great time and hopefully do some good reading! I've been trying to do really good about keeping up with reviews in a relatively close time to reading books but as I was discussing fairytale retellings with someone the other day and one mentioned was Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and I realized I read it last year and really enjoyed it but never wrote a review. That needs to be fixed so here it is.
Cruel Beauty is a loose Beauty & the Beast retelling that also deals in magic and mythology. We follow Nyx who has been betrothed to an evil ruler of the kingdom since birth because of a deal her dad made. Since she was old enough to understand she has been trained to kill her husband to be. She is resentful that of the twins she was the chosen one and treated differently always for a choice made for her. She has no choice and instead plans to seduce and destroy him and the curse put on her people for over 900 years. But when Nyx meets Ignifex finally he is not what she expected. He is charming, handsome, and seems giving and caring rather than the evil she knows him to be. Even his magical castle captivates her. Still she searches for a way to free her people by uncovering his secrets and trying to fight the attraction to him. It is insane after all to fall for your sworn enemy.
So this was different that I expected. Going in I knew mostly that it was a B&B retelling and as that is one of my all time favorite Disney movies that I watch at least once every couple of months while singing along to every word I had to read it. Plus the cover was so beautiful! I see the parallels to the classic but it isn't so strict that it's predictable. Nyx was at times a bit rough around the edges and hard but she is a seventeen year old girl who was treated different than her twin her whole life and somehow picked to be married off to some dark lord by her father. That is horrible parenting so yeah while her inner rants might seem a bit excessive at times I was okay with it knowing what she went through. Plus come on who wouldn't be constantly thinking about the things that ended them in a certain position?
There is a common edge to Ignifex and Shadow. They seem similar in some aspects, handsome and charming in some respects but like opposites in others at first. You also have our dark lord Ignifex who was much the beast I loved from the movies. Not the beastly appearance, he's described as very handsome, but in that he is different than expected, kind but can have a cruel side and he gives her freedom to explore but keeps secrets from her. Though he never pushes himself upon her for company or anything else. He is rather the gentlemen at times. Shade seems perfectly charming and friendly, open and honest without a single bad thing going for him, even a captive much like Nyx, but like Ignifex there is always more to a person than first glance or reputation.
The story progresses in a way I enjoyed and Nyx is able to see more of him Ignifex and wavers back and forth on her duty. He is the master of bargains and while some seem cruel she is able to understand some of his reasoning. Everyone in her world knows he is the devil and he bargains always cost more than they are worth but yet they still come. I love how her inner darkness, her hate and resentment end up making her a better match for him being able to understand things more easily. Still while the heart might say one thing it is selfish to make a choice for only oneself when an entire kingdom is at stake. But can you crush the one good thing you finally found to save those who never treated you nearly as well? It's a touch call and being in her head while she rationed through it all was what made it for me.
Anywho that's really all there is to say without spoiling it. I have not yet picked up the other books by Hodge yet though I do look forward to doing so. I have a couple on my shelf or kindle ready to go. I'd love to hear your thoughts below. Also please share any other B&B retellings because I'm sure I've missed some.
Until next time…