***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to HarperCollins!***
Pub date:28 January 2014
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Fairytale, Mythology, Retelling
Format:eARC provided by the publisher
Status:Cruel Beauty Universe
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.
This review has been extremely difficult to write. The premise is a great one. The execution was fine. I cannot explain why I didn’t care for Cruel Beauty. I really can’t. I was very excited when I received autoapproval for Harper, because I really wanted to read this intriguing Beauty and the Beast retelling and now I had my chance.
I plowed through the first quarter or so and then it felt like I hit a brick wall. I was still interested. Each chapter kept me interested in the next part, but it wasn’t one of those I have to devour every single page immediately deals. It was so imaginative. Alternate history England? Yes, please! Demon who makes twisted deals? Yes, more, please! Mystery and intrigue? Yes! I seriously don’t know what went wrong for me.
Honestly, I really don’t know what kept me reading. I hit a lull for a few days and ended up doing something I very rarely do. I took a break and jumped into another book. I finished it and came back, hoping it had given me the boost I needed to get out of my funk Cruel Beauty got me in. Rosamund is a great writer. She has such a strong imagination and is a good wordsmith. The world she creates is incredible.
Maybe it’s the romance that killed it for me. I really had issues with the romance. We have a pretty twisted love triangle going on and I can’t stand love triangles. I liked Ignifex in a way. He’s witty even if sadistic. He proclaims that he hates what he has to do, but every time we see him in action, he revels in it. Nyx fixates on her hatred of him and then all of a sudden loves him. That… bothers me. It may not entirely be an insta-love type situation, but the sudden switch from hatred to love just doesn’t do it for me. I really didn’t get the romance with Shade. That really baffled me. Now as I’m writing and mulling it over, I guess it is the romance that killed it for me. It is my biggest issue with the book by far. The romance just didn’t seem genuine from any of the involved parties. Until the very end, but I have other issues with THAT.
Or maybe it was how Nyx could be at times. She had such potential to be a great character, but her moodiness really got tiresome. She runs hot and cold constantly. She loves or hates wholeheartedly and with no room in between when she’s in a mood. It was a little hard to relate to her because of it. It was really irritating where her family was involved. She loved them. She hated and raved against them. Nyx was very smart and naive at the same time. She ranted against her sister’s naivety, but in reality, their educations made up two halves of a whole. Both girls received half the education they deserved.
Cruel Beauty is VERY heavy with Greek mythology. That might be a huge turn off for some readers. At times it got to be too much for me and I absolutely adore Greek mythology. If you’re not familiar with some of the myths, you’ll be lost, and I’m sure that can be very frustrating. Rosamund does a great job weaving in the mythology though, don’t let it being heavy on the mythology make you think it’s done poorly. Again. She does a fantastic job with the mythology.
A certain part about ¾ through would’ve been a perfect spot to end. It wasn’t a Happily Ever After, but it felt like a good spot to end. The last ¼ just didn’t fit in my opinion. THAT Happily Ever After really didn’t do it for me. I know Beauty and the Beast have a Happily Ever After, but after being so dark and gothic, I would’ve loved a more Grimm like ending.
In the end, I probably won’t invest in a finished copy unless it’s a killer deal. I’m fairly certain I won’t read it again. It may be a bit disappointing, but it’s an okay read. I do still plan on checking out the novella set in the same universe that comes out later this year. I do recommend Cruel Beauty! Just because I had some issues with it doesn’t mean that others won’t adore it. There are wide spread feelings on it according to reviews, so it’s really up to the reader to make a decision on making the plunge.
About the author
I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. My debut novel, CRUEL BEAUTY (a YA fairytale fantasy, where Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast), is due out from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2014.