Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
For 900 years, Arcadia has been ruled by the Gentle Lord, Ignifex—a powerful demon willing to bargain to grant his subjects wishes, but there are always unexpected costs. Nyx is the result of one of those bargains. In order to have children, her father agreed that one of his daughters would become Ignifex’s bride. The unexpected cost was his wife’s life. Determined for revenge against the Gentle Lord and free Arcadia from his cursed rule, Nyx’s father trained her to seduce, disarm, and kill her future husband. But when Nyx goes to live with Ignifex she discovers there is more to him than she could have possible imagined. As she searches for a way to destroy him, Nyx discovers she is falling in love with him. Eventually, she figures out how to save both Ignifex and Arcadia.
Cruel Beauty is a unique retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Rosamund Hodge creates a very detailed world, complete with its own culture and mythology. However, there are times where the world’s mythology gets in the way of the story instead of enhancing it. It is easy for the reader to get confused by the different myths and become disengaged with the story. But this is the book’s only weakness. The quick wit of the characters—particularly the banter between Ignifex and Nyx—is infectious. Hodge does an excellent job keeping the story interesting despite having several chapters where Nyx is simply wander around the castle. The relationship between Nyx and Ignifex poses some interesting moral questions about good and evil that would be great for discussions. Due to this and several conversations about sex, Cruel Beauty is best suited for more mature readers.
*Contains mild to moderate sexual content including one fade to black sex scene.