My favorite Disney princess is Belle from Beauty and the Beast, as is every fellow book nerd, so I was super pumped to get my hands on this fairy tale re-telling, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
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.
Okay, I have to be really honest. I didn’t like Cruel Beauty…at all. I tried to think about it from a non-bias, objective perspective but I can’t think of anything I liked about it. I’m usually not a fan of fairy tale re-tellings but I was willing to give this one a chance and it was a total disappointment.
First, Nyx, the female protagonist of this tale, has some serious issues. Now I understand she grew up in a dysfunctional home and she was destined to marry this beast of a man, but being in her head was like listening to the ramblings of a crazy woman. And the plot wasn’t much better. By the end of the novel, I was trying to connect the story to Beauty and the Beast but there is really nothing other than her falling in love with a beastly man, which is where the story went wrong for me.
So I knew from the beginning that she would fall in love with the “beast,” but while I was watching it unfold, I didn’t fall in love with her. There was really nothing to love about him or her (and maybe that’s the point the author is trying to make based on the ending) and the romance was seriously lacking. There was no tale-as-old-as-time moment at all. Now I knew it wouldn’t be like the actual fairy tale, but I was hoping for a little love to be passed around.
The story itself was so confusing by the end. There is a house within a house and this strange time travel element and crazy sparrows and voices. It was just too much. Ultimately, I didn’t connect with the characters. I didn’t enjoy the bizarre plot and the book left me with a serious sense of disappointment. I know there were a lot of five star reviews going around in the blogosphere so it really sucked that I didn’t like it. However, it was well-written and creative so I gave it two stars.
STARS: 2 out of 5