Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeBook: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date Published: January 28th, 2014
Source: Library
Date Started: March 7th, 2014
Date Finished: March 15th, 2014


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.


So this is one of those books I’m guilty of choosing because of the cover. I saw other reviews of the book, and a lot of people really liked it, loved it even. But this is one of those books that I’m on the fence about. I’m not quite sure if I liked it or not. I think I’m more towards like, but its not a book that I was absolutely in love with.

Cruel Beauty is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale. However, this story is twisted with a lot of Greek mythology and folklore. Nyx Triskelion’s mother died when she was born. Her father had made a deal with a demon, Ignifex. Ignifex handles bargains with the humans, but theres always some sort of catch to the bargain and the humans always lose. Ignifex has reigned the land for over 900 years, and promises to keep the demons at bay, but sometimes they escape, and those who look upon the demons go mad with insanity. In this bargain with Nyx’s father, Nyx was promised to be the bride of Ignifex when she turned 17. Nyx’s father had another plan, in which he trained her with Hermetic arts (some sort of magical power) in order to kill Ignifex and free their land. However, when she finally becomes his wife, she realizes that things are much more complicated than they seem, and Ignifex won’t die as easily as they had thought. It probably doesn’t help that shes falling in love with him, either.

So when I saw that there was Greek mythology weaved into this story, I got excited. I studied Greek mythology in college, and I love the ancient Greek stories. I thought I would understand this story fairly well with the knowledge that I have. However, I was still left confused throughout the book. I don’t think I fully understand the main over arching story involving the gods, or as they are called “The Kindly Ones”. It was really complicated, but I felt like I could still keep moving on in the story without fully understanding what was going on. I just wish that the story had been a bit more clear. I know that the ancient Greek stories are complicated themselves, and its no wonder why many people struggle reading them. But I feel like, being someone who at least has some sort of working knowledge of those stories, I thought I wouldn’t have been as confused.

The relationship between Nyx and Ignifex was really complicated, and I’m not sure if I’m a big fan of it. Just like in the fairytale story of Beauty and the Beast (at least the Disney version we are used to), the girl falls in love with the Beast and realizes who he really is, that he really has a great personality, and shes just the first person to take the time to get to know him. Ignifex was a little bit darker than his beast counterpart. He understood the darkness within him, and understood that was part of him. Nyx was dark herself. She was always spitting out nasty words to the people she loved. It would seem that they were perfect for each other. However, I had difficulties in trying to figure out where her alliances truly lied. At first she hated her family, but knew that she had to do their bidding and kill Ignifex. And then she loved Ignifex and missed her family. Then she visited her family, and hated Ignifex again. I knew that she loved him, that much was clear, but it just seemed like she never knew what she wanted, and was just angry at the world for it. I think her part in the book is what made everything really confusing for me. I never knew who to really root for.

I felt the end to be a little rushed. It was a perfectly understanding ending, with everything being satisfied, but I felt that it was a little too convenient at what happened in the end. I still don’t understand what was going on in the end, and at that point I don’t think I was that quite interested. I found myself reading passages but completely thinking of other things, so it was like I never had read that passage at all. When a book does that, it means that it has not captured my attention. I found myself wanting to finish the story than really try to work out what was going on.

In the end, I feel like this book was a little bit too much effort to read. I was confused the majority of the story, and I really just wanted to finish the book. The writing was beautiful, and the details were done nicely to paint a great setting and story. This book wasn’t what I was expecting at all in terms of story, but sometimes thats a good thing.


  1. I’ve been seeing this book a lot lately but had no idea what it was about. The cover looks very intriguing, and the fact that there’s Greek mythology in the mix makes this sound even more appealing! Great review!

    • Thanks for reading my review! I was appealed by the Greek mythology as well. I was actually expecting a book that was a little fluffy because of the cover and the way that the book was presented on goodreads and such. With the greek mythology, it made it more deep and complex, something that I liked a lot in the book but got confused. If you do read the book, let me know what you think!

  2. Thank you for your review. It was a great summary of the book, and I agree with the confusion–but that confusion kept me reading in hope to figure out what was going on. (I am still not sure about all what happened.) Since I am not too familiar with mythology, this book has led me to learn more about the references to the gods and other terminology. Have you read the C.S. Lewis books mentioned in the author’s acknowledgements? I wonder how those books influenced this work.

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting! The one that I was worried about when I was reading this book was that someone who wasn’t familiar with Greek mythology would get lost in it and be turned off by the book. Its great that the book made you want to learn more about the mythology behind the book, which is something that I always hope people do when they want to understand a book a little bit better. I think there was a point halfway through reading the book where I just let the story flow and stopped worrying about understanding each individual reference to the mythology. I have read a few of C.S. Lewis’s books, but I was a young kid when I did that. I definitely could feel the mystery that surrounds the world in Cruel Beauty, and that reminds me of the mystery in particularly the Chronicles of Narnia.

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