- Publisher: Balzer & Bray (HarperTeen)
- Publication date: 1/28/2014
- Source: eARC provided by the publisher for review
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
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.
Oh how awesome to get caught up in a fabulous fantasy book with romance, mystery, intrigue, and darkness!! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales of all time, so I jumped at the chance to read this retelling. It did not disappoint.This was a very dark and disturbing type of retelling, but it was so good!! I loved this take on one of my favorite tales and thought that the writing and world building were fantastic!
Nyx was a character that took some time to grow on me. She was always really tough and doesn't take crap from anyone, even The Gentle Lord. She was very full of hate for the majority of the book, but I understood where it was coming from. The thing is, most of her hate came from her capacity to love. She was always destined to fulfill the role of trying to destroy the Gentle Lord, who is the beast of the story. She has been trained her entire life on how to be a good bride, what to do to please him, and ultimately destroy him. She has always known that she is going to be a sacrifice in order to not only save her family, but to save her entire kingdom. That's a lot for a person to carry. She hates her father for doing this to her, and she hates her sister because she has lied to try to protect her. Her sister was always the favorite. The special one. The one who would live on after Nyx would surely die. What Nyx doesn't expect is to start falling for The Gentle Lord. The man who is supposed to be her enemy. She finds that there is much more to things than she could have imagined. She not only learns to love, but to let go of her hate. She really grows tremendously through the book and I loved that!
Ignifex was quite the character. I really, really enjoyed him. He was sarcastic and fun. He knows pretty much all of the tricks in the book when it comes to trying to kill him. He is entertained by Nyx, and she throws some surprises his way. He is not evil though. Yes, he does some really horrible things, but it was clear to me that he wasn't a bad guy... or demon thing or whatever. He does what he has to, but he is not really a bad guy in my mind. He is as trapped in the palace as Nyx is. Well maybe not as much, but still. He never pushes her to do things she doesn't want, and he in no way makes her feel imprisoned. He does need to give her some slight punishments, but she is very tough to deal with. It was great getting to know him and how much he really had going on in that head of his. He was very complex and it was a joy to see him unfolding.
The romance was different than I expected, with a bit of a love triangle thrown in, but not one that was annoying. In fact, it was done really well. I wish I had felt a little more of the emotion in it all, but overall it was something that I really enjoyed. The romance between Ignifex and Nyx was very fun. It took a while to get there which was good, but even when they finally have romance budding, they still have that love hate thing going on. That was a fun touch. It was both sweet and aggravating, but it was great!
I loved the fantasy of this story. The vividness of the writing was incredible. I see all the details in my head. The beauty and the disturbing things were all so well detailed. It's hard to really make me feel like I can see the world in books, but this one accomplished it very easily. The characters were really done well too, though I did feel like a lot of the emotional impact I would have loved was lacking. In general this was absolutely fantastic and I am so happy that I got to read it. I will be sure to pick up future books from this author!! She has amazing writing skills and I was totally lost in this story and world!!
*An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.