Author: Rosamund Hodge
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.