Hauntingly Gorgeous | Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Friday, January 21, 2022

 Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 1/28/14
Pages: 346
Source: purchased

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.
Nyx was born to kill her betrothed. It was the only way for the world to go back to the way it was. After getting married to the Dark Lord of the land, Nyx is curious in her husband’s life. And is killing him the only answer to save the world? In this hauntingly gorgeous retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Rosamund Hodge weaves a magnificent tale of demons and Greek mythology like you’ve never seen before.

Beauty and the Beast Retelling

  • I’m not too familiar with Beauty and the Beast. In fact, I only know the Disney version. And as much as I adore that version, I’m sure the story is a bit darker than that. Cruel Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, a haunting tale of duty falling in love with the dark.
  • The writing is absolutely gorgeous. It simply flows right off the tongue. The writing reminded me a lot of A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. Both works had a dutiful character resigned to their fate. Within the writing held breathtaking prose that is sure to grip you.
  • The world building was beyond beautiful. Great writing helps the world become believable and majestic. It is both pretty and visual, the descriptions seeming to take your imagination to the limits.
  • A lot of the story takes place within the Dark Lord’s castle. The building itself was a whole world on its own and every time Nyx explores, I want to continue looking through doorways at all the different rooms which the place held. Every room became a surprise.
  • I noticed bits of Greek mythology thrown in there as well which I wasn’t expecting. It was incredibly interesting to the story. The layers of depth to the characters, delving into their backstory and beliefs, made me curious to learn about each and every one of them.
  • Ignifex, the male protagonist, is a demon Rumpelstiltskin. In that way, I found there to be many snippets of different retellings in Cruel Beauty. However, Beauty and the Beast seemed to be the most prominent of all. 

Unforgettable Characters

  • Nyx, the main character, is terribly brave and dutiful. It was very easy to fall in step with her. She was flawed but relatable. Her narrative, much like the gorgeous writing, is haunting. She is a character, knowing her destiny from the start—one that she may not return from—and continuing on anyway to save the world.
  • The clever banter between Nyx and Ignifex was incredibly entertaining. It was such a strange predicament to be in: a marriage without ever meeting before the ceremony was over. It was amusing to see them hit it off so well, even if most of the dialogue is witty and filled with sarcasm. 
  • Ignifex is such a tortured soul and I wish Hodge had shown a little more of his character to us. I loved every scene with him, hoping to see deeper into his character. All of his dialogue was always comforting and significant to the plot.
  • Shade was entirely too easy to trust. Right in the beginning, this is the character that opens up to us in the first few chapters and shows us things Ignifex probably never would. Shade seems so much like an open book, despite his dark past and many secrets. He is a man born of shadows, a slave to the castle. I was so drawn to him from the start because both Nyx and he share that in common, no matter how much they want to leave the castle, they are stuck.

Surprises Galore

  • As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, romance is inevitable. It is a pleasant surprise, seeing how Hodge lets the beautiful romance simply unfold into a gentle hope that maybe not all is lost in Nyx’s world.
  • Cruel Beauty was a fast read. It was hard to put down and definitely the type of read you can finish in one setting.
  • The ending seemed so fast, yet not rushed. By the time the book closed, I was gasping for air. I just couldn’t get enough of the Cruel Beauty world.


Cruel Beauty was a surprise like no other. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast delves deeper into the many facets of tales, coming alive between pages of haunting prose. Readers of Falling Under by Gwen Hayes will love this fresh take on an old classic.

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