I received this book for free from From Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Source: From Publisher
Buy the Book •
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.
I admit I have not read too many fairy tale retellings and those I have read have not been quite what I was expecting. It’s turned me off to them a bit, unfortunately. But Cruel Beauty enticed me with it’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a wonderful fantastical and mythological edge.
Due to a deal gone wrong cast by her father, our main character Nyx must marry the prince of demons. Obviously jaded with the lack of love and regret from her father and with a twin sister who was spared at her expense, Nyx struggles with what her fate might be. Her father has trained her with the hopes she can defeat this evil lord and save their kingdom, but it seems like a long shot to all. How exactly the evil prince of demons came to be and what terrible fate the kingdom has suffered on his behalf all has to deal with a lot of mythology. I admit this often went way above my head. I had a hard time piecing little bits together but for the most part I got the gist of it. It was pretty fascinating how it was all told and even beautiful despite the complexity.
Given a key to unlock certain doors in the castle she was permitted to enter, Nyx goes on an adventure of sorts to discover the hidden rooms that can help her defeat her husband. A lot of my favorite moments of the book dealt with what Nyx would find behind these doors. A beautiful lake, a mysterious mirror and all sorts of interesting places were revealed and the author had such a way of describing them that I had such a vivid picture in my mind. In fact a lot of the story read very much like a movie I could see unfolding in my head. It was quite amazing.
As far as the characters go, Nyx was interesting in a way where she was strong and determined but also capable of regret and indecision. But she was so good at putting up that confident front and not letting her fear show. I admired that about her. The prince of demons, whom she was to call Ignifex, was evil but mildly so once I was able to humanize him. It was obvious he had a softer side for Nyx, despite her relentless pursuit to destroy him. I really loved the scenes they shared and their banter. It was obvious their hatred was transforming to lust and love and I enjoyed watching that progress.
Some of the storyline was a bit predictable but that part didn’t bother me in the slightest. Really my only issue was how hard it was to keep up with the mythology and a few explanations at the end that left me scratching my head a bit. My simple mind was working overtime and couldn’t quite keep up. But on a whole I found the story extremely interesting. The Beauty and the Beast touches were less than I originally expected but really just right in the end. I even felt a bit of Rumplestiltskin thrown in? Which was entertaining and amusing to me since the beast and Rumplestiltskin are the same person on the tv show Once Upon a Time that I like to watch. I’d absolutely recommend this to fans of fantasy novels and anyone looking for a unique spin on a fairy tale.