Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: N/A

The product of a bargain forged before her birth, Nyx Triskelion was raised with one purpose in mind–to kill the demon who has imprisoned her home Arcadia and cut it off from the rest of the world. Deep down, Nyx knows she’s been sent on a fool’s errand, but duty binds her to marry the evil lord Ignifex and avenge her mother’s death. But dangerous secrets lurk in every shadow of the Gentle Lord’s castle and the longer Nyx remains in the cursed house, the more she discovers that nothing, not even the demon himself, is what it seems.

“Leonidas could not help loving Astraia, the daughter his wife had paid for so dearly. He could not help despising me, the daughter who had received her life for no cost, as he had paid nothing of his own to receive us. So Astraia grew up beloved, the living image of her mother. And I grew up knowing that my only purpose was to be my father’s vengeance incarnate.”

I’m going to be honest, it took me a while to get into this book. In fact, it wasn’t until I got half way through that I was full immersed in the story. Part of the issue was Nyx’s inner dialogue in which she ruminates over her hatred for her sister and then feels ashamed for thinking such thoughts…over and over. And while the resentment Nyx feels is a legitimate part of her character, the redundancy of such negative sentiments was almost enough to cause me to put the book down. Another issue was the immediacy of Nyx’s attraction to both the captive Shade and her captor Ignifex, a problem I see much too often in young adult books.

It was easy to see what attracted Nyx to Shade, the mysterious shadowy captive. He is a means for her to obtain some control over her new life and was everything Ignifex was not. I found the more interesting relationship to be between Nyx and her demon husband. At first I couldn’t understand what she could possibly see in him, but then he started to grow on me. It was the uncompromising way he saw Nyx and the fact that against all odds, he made Nyx kind and gentle.

The most interesting part of Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty was not the romance or the dark atmosphere, but the relationship between Nyx and her sister Astraia. There was such an intensity of emotion on the part of the protagonist that I desired to see their relationship play out. Eventually this came about and the result is both ironic and eye-opening. My least favorite part of the book was the endless Greek mythological references because I felt most of it unnecessarily complicated the story.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

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8 thoughts on “Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

  1. Pingback: The Friday 56, #6 | A Kernel of Nonsense

  2. Do you think that the “insta-love” may have more to do with the fairy-tale genre rather than a writing flaw? I guess I found it to bother me less than it would in say, a contemporary novel because it often happens in the fairytales and myths that the book was based upon.

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    • What a wonderful question! I certainly think that fairy tale concepts are very much ingrained into modern stories, whether they be retellings or not, including the idea of true love which in a fairy tale does take on that insta-love mentality. I am much more forgiving of mediums like fairy tales or even movies when it comes to these quick developing relationships because both have a very short time span to tell their tale. But I think literature, because it doesn’t have to be fast-moving and isn’t so limited, has an opportunity to expound on things like love or even characterization. I think most of us feel that the ‘damsel-in-distress’ is a hackneyed characterization of females and though it has its roots in the fairy tale, we are all too eager to do away with it. Likewise, perhaps it is time that we do away with insta-love as well.

      With Cruel Beauty I think what bothered me was the alteration of the relationship between Beast and Beauty. In the original Beauty eventually sees the Beast for more than what he looks like, but in this version it felt like Nyx’s attraction to Ignifex sort of undermined the story of the heroine coming to love a beast.

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      • I think you’re so right about books having the ability to expound more on growing romances, great point! I see your point also about Nyx and Ignifex undermining the structure of the classic Beauty and the Beast narrative, as her atraction to Ignifex is largely more surface attributes (physicality, gestures, witty banter) but she is attracted more to Shade’s morals and goals and sense of duty. It’s almost like she LIKED Ignifex for being a “beast” figure because she could identify her own cruel parts of her personality within him. So interesting. I actually think that this book had much more in common with some of the Greek myths than it did with the actual Beauty and the Beast story, but it’s primarily marketed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling (especially with the rose imagery) so I was expecting more parallels as well.

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        • Oh, I totally think that the darkness she saw in Ignifex was a reflection of her own inner demons. She found a kindred spirit in him, and in the end I think she was drawn more to him than Shade. I think this is what made the book so original but also a little twisted.

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        • It was a little twisted! It wasn’t the normal fairy tale absolution ending! But I admit, I too was drawn much more to Ignifex than Shade, even finding out they were technically the same person…

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        • Oh, me too. Ignifex was just the more interesting character. For whatever reason flaws are just more interesting than perfection. I still don’t think my brain has quite reconciled that twist.

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  3. Pingback: Book Haul: June Summer Splash | A Kernel of Nonsense

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