Author: Rosamund Hodge
Pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date Published: January 28, 2014
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
In a word, Cruel Beauty can be described as beautiful. It was a wonderful read. I have enjoyed every word in this book. Beautifully crafted and imagined, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is one of my favourite debuts.
It follows the story of Nyx Triskelion and her mission to save her world of Arcadia from a Gentle Lord that has managed to put it in a state of darkness. What I expected to be straightforward fighting and thrill in her quest turned out to be an inward look in not only Nyx' but pretty much everyone in the book. We see her as an obedient daughter who was thrust into this mission at a young age, trying very hard to quell her heart's own malice for the sake of a bigger purpose. Her descent into her own mind was quite entertaining. Trying to juggle her own interests against the interests of the people in general until she must chose one to serve. While I do not think she is full of hatred, I feel like all the responsibility was inappropriate put on her by people who didn't care about what she wanted for herself.
As a retelling, Cruel Beauty is a pearl among the oysters. It mixes so many aspects of well known fairytales and myths and somehow it all worked for me. It's rich in detail and I think that's one aspect of the book that drew me in. The dynamics of the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex was fantastic. They both like to play with each other's wits without completely damaging each other.
Character-wise, Astraia was a huge disappointment. Her involvement was next to none, other than managing to tick me off with her "perfectness" all while Nyx has to suffer for her. And she has the gall to tell Nyx that she won't be forgiven if she didn't kill the one person that has shown her an ounce of affection and love and worth. I'm glad Nyx found her own happiness through her own way in the end.
I didn't want to think this book is a stand alone. It's too beautiful and I feel very attached to it. I'm very sure it'll find it's way back into my rereading stack.