Cruel Beauty is a YA retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Rosamund Hodge.
Nyx’s birth was the result of a bargain between her father and the evil ruler of their kingdom, the Gentle Lord Ignifex. In order to provide Nyx’s mother with children, the Gentle Lord secured the promise that one of the daughter’s would become his bride.
Her father never thought to confirm that his wife would be able to survive the birthing. No one ever does think through their bargain entirely…
Since her childhood, Nyx has been being prepared to marry the Gentle Lord – this demon king who caused the death of her own mother. Her family preps her to kill him, to enact the ultimate revenge and save their people from his ongoing bargains and tyranny of curses.
So it is that on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx weds the immortal Gentle Lord via a stone proxy in the town church and proceeds to the mysterious castle that no one but the desperate – looking for a deal – ever comes near.
Yet Ignifex is not what she expects. His red, catlike eyes are frightening, yes, but he is strangely charming. Her own resentment and bitterness that has bubbled beneath the surface her entire life seem to find a kindred spirit – and the castle’s ever-changing labyrinth of supernatural rooms is intoxicating.
Nyx finds the mission she was groomed for since birth – to kill the Gentle Lord – to be a far more difficult prospect than she expected…
Cruel Beauty was a creepy, dark, angst-ridden retelling in the very best way.
This is a truly captivating novel with a heroine that struggles with her inner motivations, hostility and choices. She is no Belle from Disney – and that is okay.
Here we have a young woman who has never felt love from her father – as he has refused to provide love to someone he has to give up. Here we have a young woman that has known for years that she must marry her mother’s murderer – and in fulfilling her mission to kill him, ultimately will have to sacrifice herself for her people, as well.
So when she is suddenly in a position where this demon king actually seems to understand her and accept her for who she is – how is she supposed to kill him? And Ignifex is definitely appealing, while also being enigmatic and maddening with a little bit of scariness.
Cruel Beauty is really about two deeply flawed individuals in a world of curses, dark magic and evil that has haunted their world for ages. It’s about love!
I wouldn’t say I am AS enthusiastically over the moon on Cruel Beauty as I have seen some other readers be, but I am definitely a big fan and found it to be a page-turner on both an emotional and plot-wise level.
Definitely one to read and add to the ever growing list of fairy-tale retellings!