Published: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 2.5/5.0
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.
Sometimes I’m guilty of this little thing called the “cover-buy”. I should start a group called Cover Buy Anonymous because I’m pretty sure it’s a serious problem in the book community, am I right? Of course I am. Anyways, Cruel Beauty has a gorgeous cover and it was supposed to be a re-telling of The Beauty and the Beast, so I bought it.
While not totally disappointing, Cruel Beauty was certainly not a YA diamond in the rough. Not the epitome of dashing, heart stopping romance either, but at least the MC wasn’t a total moron. Nyx is destined to be the savior of her trapped kingdom, all because her father made a deal with a demon over seventeen years before. The circumstances of her life have left her with a thin façade, barely concealing her coldness and a streak of cruelty. Nyx is married off to the demon king, Ignifex, who dwells in a strange, mind bending house that holds dangerous secrets, all of which Nyx is determined to uncover. Eventually, as oft happens in YA romance-y novels, she begins to fall for Ignifex, though she continues to try and kill him in a multitude of ways. It’s something of a love/hate relationship.
The set up for the first half of the book was pretty great and I thought I was going to love it. HOWEVER, I thought the ending was taking the cheap, easy way out. Seriously?? It was like Hodge decided she was tired of writing, running out of ideas, and had an end of semester hangover, so she said SCREW THIS and wrapped it up in about 15 pages! With that ending, she should have kept the whole book to novella length and saved me the 3 hours it took to read it. This book could have been much longer and gone out with a bang, but it instead went out with a whimper because I HATED the ending. I mostly liked Nyx, Ignifex was not particularly scary but still cool, and Shade was interesting. Nyx’s family infuriated me- her dad was a douche, her aunt had the hots for her dead sister’s husband, and her sister Astraia was spoiled.
Overall, Cruel Beauty was a really entertaining read but the ending left me with a bitter taste in my mouth due to its quality. It’s not a must-read, but I had to see what all the publicity was about on Instagram because it seemed to be everywhere. This was a really fast, one sitting read for me and I did get a ton of entertainment from reading it. Nyx made me smile because she was ferocious and determined and I actually liked the relationship between her and Ignifex, so kudos to the author for avoiding a completely vomit-inducing teenage romance.