Saturday, 11 January 2014

ARC Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
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.
Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: None
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28th 2014

Rating: 2 stars


I was raised to marry a monster.
My feelings for this novel can be summed up in one word: disappointed. The premise sounded fantastic: a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Then the cover was revealed and it was absolutely beautiful. But when I actually read it...

Cruel Beauty has quite a lot of Greek mythology, something I didn't expect. I normally love Greek mythology, but I felt it was out of place in Cruel Beauty. This novel tries to do a lot: a retelling, Greek mythology, the paranormal aspect... It felt a bit messy and didn't resonate with me. I'd have liked this more if it had chosen one or two aspects instead of three.

The biggest letdown, for me, was the romance. The romance is a very important aspect in this book: a lot of the plot and the character's decisions depend on the romance, and unfortunately, it fell short. At the beginning of the book, a slight love triangle is forming, but that is resolved quite early on. Unfortunately, both sides of the triangle contain instant love.

On her first night in the castle (I think), Nyx meets Shade. She suspects he could be an ally and decides to kiss him. While I personally don't know if that's the right way, I could get over that. However, after two conversations and one kiss both characters start speaking of love. 

The air stilled in my lungs. If that was not a confession of love, it was near enough.

Last night he had as good as said he loved me, and I thought I loved him in return.
I was really sad this happened, because it's very unrealistic and basically ruined the book for me from the start.

After all that happened, Nyx and Ignifex's relationship blooms. I think there was supposed to be sexual tension between the two, but I didn't feel it at all. The most enjoyable thing about their romance was their banter about the ways Nyx planned to kill him. Their relationship, like Nyx and Shade's, is majorly underdeveloped. She starts seeing good in him and she kisses him at a certain point, and I felt I didn't even know Ignifex yet, let alone start seeing his good side. Their first kiss was awkward too. I think it was supposed to be in an I'll-kiss-you-to-make-you-shut-up manner, but I didn't feel it at all. I was litterally like "Wait... They are kissing now? Why?". Their relationship also progressed way too quick. Once again, she starts speaking of love too soon: I still felt like I didn't know Ignifex all that well and he certainly hadn't deserved anyone's love yet. Their romance was such a key point in this book, and because it failed, the rest of the book seemed strange as well. Some major plot points and decisions depend on this romance, and since I didn't feel it at all, the decisions of the characters just felt strange.

Then there's the plot itself, which was confusing, to be honest. I felt certain things weren't explained enough and it made me confused and I didn't understand everything that was going on.

The only thing that I really did like was the writing. There were certain moments that were described beautifully and the prose really fit the feel of the book.

In all, I am majorly disappointed. The romance fell flat with its instant love, and since a lot of the plot depends on the romance, that fell flat too. Not only that, but the plot was confusing, and I felt the book was trying to do too much with the addition of the Greek mythology. I'm just really, really disappointed. However, I have seen several people who absolutely LOVED this book, so if you think the romance won't bother you, give it a try!
ARC was provided by Balzer + Bray. Thank you! No money or favors were exchanged to alter this review.


  1. Oh no, I'm just about to pick this one up and I'll go in with caution after reading your review! The Greek mythology is a bit of a surprise, I'm glad you talked about that. Thanks for the lovely review Celine, and happy new year!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. I'm glad I could help! I hope you'll love it though, I know many people do. Most people I know are giving it 4-5 stars, so I'm definitely the black sheep! Happy new year to you too :)

  2. Funny! My review went up today and it seems like we are the complete opposite. The fact that she did so much made this story complex and unique to me, not messy. I rarely like romance in books, but this worked for me :D and I was stunned by the plot. But I've heard more people with mixed feelings, so you're definitely not alone. I really think this book is you loved it or you hate it.


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