I was really excited to read this book because it would be my first Beauty and the Beast retelling. It did not disappoint. In fact it was wonderful and would have easily been one of my favorites of the year had it not ended the way it did.
Now I am a huge Disney fan. I love my princesses and I love my fairy tales and I love my HEAs but this book is so different from a typical Disney movie yet it manages to maintain that magical atmosphere that fills you with joy and makes you want to sing.
This is a story about a girl upon who the fate of a kingdom depends. A girl who has been raised to know she will die. A girl who has been raised to kill a beast.
Nyx is the female lead I’ve been looking for a long long time. She is real. She is not portrayed as some sort of hero even though that is kind of what she is. She is not a nice girl who is excited about giving up her life to save the kingdom. Hell she wants to live. She hates her sister (while simultaneously loving her) because she gets to live while Nyx has to sacrifice her life. Her sister is the loved daughter, the naïve sheltered one while she is the one whose aunt gave her advice on how to have sex with her soon to be husband. She hates her father but she still wishes that he felt some regret for what he was condemning her to. She has ‘poison’ in her heart. She isn’t a sweet girl, she can be cruel, she is clever and will use your weaknesses against you if it'll help her but in spite of this she is still capable of being nice. Underneath all her bavardo she IS a girl who is scared, a girl who doesn’t want to die, a girl who wants to be loved even though she isn’t perfect.
Ignifex was incredibly charming. You cannot help but fall for him, even when he is the enemy. I think what’s most interesting about him is that he can charm your pants off even when he is not actually a good guy. He never actually acts in a way that would label him an asshole though, he is just, a mystery. How do you define evil? What he does makes him a bad guy but are the people who come asking him for favors any better themselves? People, who are selfish, people who think they deserve the best of everything. These aren’t innocent people who go to him asking for favors, so is he evil for making them suffer? Or is he not?
The romance between the two is swoon worthy. The Disney fan in me had tears in her eyes half the time. They accept each other for who they are, they don’t expect the other to change. It takes a while for them to get there but they do, they do get there and it’s worth the journey.
Cruel Beauty is a refreshingly original novel. It takes two of my favorite ‘genres’, fairy tale retellings and mythology, (I have many..eek) and mashes them together. It does that really well too. The world building is magnificent. It has a certain magical feel to it but it is also dark, in a way that sometimes gives you goosebumps. Add to that the elements from greek mythology and you have a winner.
There was a certain twist that I am sure everyone will see coming. The problem with the said twist is that it is poorly executed. Very poorly. I wouldn’t even mind the obviousness had it actually made sense when it happened.
Which brings me to the ending. The ending did not work at all. It left me confused and I didn’t get the kind of closure I had sought. I expected a completely different ending. I WANTED a different ending. Because the ending we got kind of took away from both Nyx and Ignifex’s personality. It changed them into something they weren’t, they were no longer the characters I fell in love with. The ending was too perfect. Too sugar sweet. With such a great main character, you don’t actually want that kind of ending because it takes away what you love most about her. I pretty much refused to acknowledge that ending, I mentally re-wrote one. Yes that is how much I didn't like the ending. I guess this was mostly a 'it's me not you' thing and I am sure other people won't have the same problems I did (except Khanh, but I already ranted about it to her so I didn't turn into a rage beast thanks to her).
Despite everything, I’ll have to say, this was one hell of a retelling and I recommend it to everyone. It has a strong female lead, a male character you can actually see yourself loving and a wonderful relationship. Plus the love child of a fairy tale retelling and Greek mythology is bound to be awesome.
Disclaimer: I got this e-ARC from Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Okay, the first thing you need to know is that whoever did the marketing on this book was incorrect. This is not Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast, it's Greek Mythology & Beauty and the Beast. The other thing you need to know right off the bat is that is slow in the beginning and there is a ton of info-dump, but please stick with it as it's one crazy ride.
I absolutely love Greek Mythology and while I know a lot of people thought that the addition of Greek Mythology turned the book a bit pretentious, I didn't I loved the addition of Greek Mythology. It took me back to 5th grade when I studied it and I tested myself throughout the book to see how much of it, I remembered.
Nyx knows that she is to be married to the Gentle Lord as soon as she is old enough. That was the bargain that her father made to him prior to her birth. She has never had a choice in the matter. She has resented her sister for being the favored one. She resents her father for not trying to save her from this fate.
Yet she has a plan. She plans to seduce the Gentle Lord, destroy his castle and free her people from the 900 year old curse that has been upon them.Yet no where in her plan did she expect to fall for Ignifex, the Dark Lord. She also never expected to meet Shade. Shade has more secrets than Nyx realizes. Shade is even more mysterious than Ignifex is.
In a book like this, you worry that so much effort and energy will go into the world building and that the character development will suffer. You'll be happy to know that it doesn't. The main characters are all fleshed out nicely and even the secondary characters are fleshed out nicely which was really nice to see.
For the first half of the book I was Team Shade. He was sweet and kind and clearly Nyx was interested in that. I think she was attracted to Shade not just because of his looks, but because for the first time, someone was kind to her and he valued her. My love affair with Ignifex didn't start until I was about 55% of the way into the book.
Before I knew it, I was swept up in Ignifex's clutches. He was much like Nyx. He was a prisoner in this castle much like herself. Yet somehow these two managed to fall in love. Before I knew it, I was rooting for them. Big time and my love of Shade was forgotten.
I am giving this book 4 stars mostly because the ending massively confused me. Maybe it was because I was up until all hours reading it, I'm not sure but overall it was really good and I would totally recommend this book to people who love Greek Mythology and or Beauty and the Beast.
A fantasy that had me a bit confused at times, slow in the beginning, but made it totally and compl
I requested Cruel Beauty when available to request on Edelweiss because I love the disney beauty and the beast, and I had also seen some highly positive reviews from trusted bloggers and wanted to experience for myself.
The beginning of the book wasn't what I expected, and I didn't really get fully into it until Nyx was married and in the castle of the Gentle Lord. It was more about gods and goddesses, and repetitive moanings about her and her sister as well as a rather tedious to me set up of the world. Another thing that was lost in the retelling that was a favorite part of the Beauty and the Beast original was how Beauty sacrificed willingly for her family, and here Nyx really had no choice and she complained about it. However, several of my blogger buddies dubbed this a favorite so I kept with it longer than I might have otherwise.
However, I started liking the world and the story picked up when we met Ignifex and Shade. Both had qualities that made me want to know more about them and this is where I started being interested and invested in the story. I began to respect Nyx more and more because she is downright real. She has love for her sister, but also resents her because her father chose her sister as the one to fawn over and Nyx the one to sacrifice to the gentle Lord. But she doesn't just accept these feelings, she really tries to control and let the love win out.
The love triangle in this one is great. I was especially falling for Shade, and had a few theories about him, but I won't say because it would be a spoiler either way. He could only say certain things, and couldn't betray Ignifex because he was bound to him, but his gentle and believing nature really drew me to him. He helped Nyx when he could and I really pitied but also admired him at the same time for staying strong and still having hope after being imprisoned for so long.
Ignifex was an enigma. He was cruel lots of times, which wasn't a surprise since he is the ultimate deceiver but he also showed concern and care at times when I am sure that he didn't have to. In some ways I come to pity him knowing some of his backstory, but it is hard to keep feeling that when I am reminded of all he did, all the pain he's caused. The romance between the two always took me by surprise seeing his gentler side, but just like Nyx, I questioned it, and wondered what the outcome could possibly be.
Nyx has quite some adventures in exploring Ignifex's house, looking for answers, and trying to make things right, to fulfill her purpose and to find herself freedom.
The ending was perfect for the story. I was kinda confused at what exactly was going on from about 85% up to well, about 95% but still, I think that I know, or at least I pieced together enough that makes me good with the story. I think part of it may be my sickness haze, but I dunno.
Also, the ending was perfect. It somehow wrapped everything I wanted for this story (even when it seemed to be in direct contradiction to each other) and gave Nyx and ending that I couldn't even have conjured up. It had plenty of action, lots of character development and was a satisfying and good read that I am glad I stuck through the slow beginning for.
So, I will say that it was def worth the read, it had a slow (for me) beginning, I was confused at the resolution but it had an enthralling love triangle (that I was right about for once), a main character I came to love for her honesty and a heart-pounding and satisfying ending.
Bottom Line: A fantasy that had me a bit confused at times, slow in the beginning, but made it totally and completely worth it with the most unique love triangle and resolution I've ever read.