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.