As you know from some of my previous reviews, sometimes I commit the sin of judging a book by its cover. And in this case, I’m certainly glad I did. The title and the cover itself drew me in. I also happened to purchase my copy from an awesome local bookstore, Book People, where it happened to be on display with a little recommendation card. I don’t remember the exact wording of the card, but I remember that it described Cruel Beauty as being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Greek/Roman mythology and the main character is an assassin. I like assassins, I like Greek/Roman mythology, and I LOVE Beauty and the Beast–so I knew immediately I needed to read it.
The description on the card was accurate. This is a story about a girl who has been raised to kill her future husband–The Gentle Lord. The lord of demons. He has been reeking havoc in Arcadia with his twisted bargains and his demons for as long as any of the people can remember. And now Nyx has the opportunity to save all of her people, everyone she loves. But can she move forward with her plan when there is bitterness and hatred in her own heart? And is the lord of demons really so…well…demonic as people believe?
I was enraptured by this book. I read it almost entirely in one night because I simply couldn’t put it down. I had to force myself to finally go to sleep because I had to accomplish things the next day. And after having read the book, the characters have stayed with me. Rosamund Hodge has created beautiful, complex characters in Ignifex and Nyx. I also loved the language and the imagery throughout the book. It is somewhat Howl’s Moving Castle-esque in its descriptions of Ignifex’s castle. In my opinion this is an extremely lovely, complex, and creative retelling of the tale as old as time. The bottom line is, the person who loves you most is the person who sees all parts of yourself, the cruel and the kind, the good and the bad, and still loves you. This is not a new lesson in literature, but one that was newly presented so well in Cruel Beauty. The only obstacle I see for this book is that it might not appeal to those who do not love fantasy or mythology, as it is heavy in both of these things. Another complaint: I kind of wish this had been a book written for adults. Some of the romantic scenes could have gone much, much further. However, if anything I wrote in this review makes it seem the slightest bit intriguing, you must read it–you won’t be sorry!
Also, I’m not sure if he could pull off the snark, but I could totally picture Kit Harrington (of Game of Thrones fame) as the Gentle Lord:
Fans of the book Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers would most likely also appreciate this novel.