“You’re just as foolish as the others. You think you are clever, strong, special. You think you’re going to win.” Hodge, Rosamund (2014-01-28). Cruel Beauty
- Release Date: January 28th 2014
- Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale
- Pages : 342
- Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Cruel Beauty is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and The Best, where beauty is an angry and selfish (read: cruel) young woman named Nyx. Out of desperation Nyx's father made a bargain that would result in Nyx being married off to the Gentle Lord, a powerful demon who has ruled over Nyx's people for 900 years. Nyx mission isn't just to marry the Gentle Lord, but she has been trained to take him down, but could there more inside this beast than darkness ?
Cruel Beauty is sold as a Beauty and the Beast retelling but the story feels more like the tale of Bluebeard. A man whose young innocent wife discovers the benevolent Bluebeard keeps the bodies of his previous wives who disobeyed him. There is this sense of isolation and dread in the original tale that we see a bit of in Cruel Beauty. Nyx is also one of many of wives who have joined the Gentle Lord and, like in the original tale, he allows Nyx to roam the rooms of his magical house---expect for the locked ones. The Gentle Lord also keeps the dead bodies of his previous wives in one of said rooms, so I was really getting Bluebeard vibes
The setting of this world is based on Arcadia, a real civilization, that from what I remember from Art History, was a prosperous and secluded part of this world. Hodge turns it on its head a little in this story because The Gentle Lord takes over Arcadia and physically separates it from the rest of the world.
As I was reading I just kept finding myself going "ehh. . . don't know about this" about the romance in this book. Nyx is stuck in the Gentle Lord's house .I just don't know how I feel about the female protagonist having to fight her attraction to this overly touchy and creepy male character. She goes through this whole "I shouldn't" "but I want to" thing.There are times when she finds herself feeling sorry for him and wanting him after he gets hurt or shows some humanity. . . but I wasn't convinced. I didn't just buy into him stealing her heart. I'm just not for the jerk + vulnerability = acceptable as love interest.
There is another layer to this wold were people practice Hermetic arts or workings, I gather this is a type of alchemy that is controlled by sigils. It's mentioned early on that using the Hermetic arts is how Nyx will destroy him, but it's just seems like a plot point to keep the story going The magic behind this sounded so interesting and I wish we would have been given more details on how this works in this world.
The book mellowed out for me in the middle but really picked up towards the end. I didn't 100% percent understand he ending, but it was a nice wrap up to a stand alone novel. At any rate it took some YA tropes I don't like including Greek/Roman Mythology and books in one setting ( I'm looking at you The Goddess Test) and made it work for me.