Title/Author: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, January 28 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom - all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle - a shifting maze of magical rooms - enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
There's a lot of hype about this book and while I did enjoy it, I'm not as over the moon about it as some people were. But I'll read anything that's marketed as Beauty and the Beast meets Graceling ;)
Let me start by saying that Nyx is my kind of heroine. Snarky, strong, not too nice to be realistic and someone who actually had the proper training to destroy an evil force. Nyx was awesome. She is conflicted by her feelings towards Ignifex and Shade and in that such a normal teenage girl and it made her even more endearing to me. She can be harsh with her family, but seriously, I wouldn't be nice either if I'd been the one who was being sacrificed because her father made a mistake. I loved that she was flawed, she felt so real!
And IGNIFEX! Man, do I love him! He's such a complex character and it was just amazing watching the interaction between him and Nyx and seeing his story and secrets be revealed! I totally loved the parts with him in it the best! I was just fascinated by his side that made bargains with people that would always end badly for the person involved and the side of him that was trying to protect Nyx. I want to say so many more things but I'm afraid I'll spoil stuff for people, so I won't. Let's just say that I loved him.
So you ask, what made me not as fangirly over this book as I could have been? I mean, the characters were solid. Well, the thing is that for a big part of the book I felt like not much of anything happened. Nyx kept exploring the castle and nothing really got discovered and I was kinda feeling like we were going around in circles without making progress. Also, while I totally loved the magic system, I would have loved for there to have been a little more of an explanation as to how it all worked, because I felt like I was missing parts and didn't fully understand what was going on.
Towards the end, the pace picked up and it was SO GOOD and I just didn't want to put it down and there was shock and horror and me screaming that THINGS HAD TO BE FIXED BECAUSE @#$%#!! So yes, I was completely invested by the end and this made up for the slight slowness that I felt through a large portion of the book. And the writing was beautiful, which goes a long way as well.
I do have to say that for me it didn't feel as much as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but more like a kickass fantasy novel that could easily do without the equation to both the fairytale and Graceling.
My rating: 4 stars