Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Format: Kindle Edition
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.
I was expecting a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, when I first read the synopsis but soon I realized that was the wrong mentality to go into this book with. If you go into this book thinking it’s Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be highly disappointed. I had to take a step back and remember I was reading a different version of Beauty and the Beast. This one is dark and gloomy.
Cruel Beauty takes place in a magical world known as Arcadia. Arcadia has been cursed for hundreds of years and ruled by the Gentle Lord who bargains with the foolish. He unleashes his demons who either drive the people of Arcadia mad or they don’t live to tell who did it, at least that’s how the story has been told throughout the years. One thing is certain the Gentle Lord must be stopped.
Nyx was raised to marry and kill the Gentle Lord. It has been her mission from birth to avenge her mother’s death and save Arcadia. Nyx is a hard character to like, I had to put the book down a couple times because I really hated her. I understood that she was chosen to die, receiving no affection or love from her father. Meanwhile, her twin sister Astraia (whom looked just like her mother) was father’s favorite. I understood her bitterness and anger but at times it was just too much. What I did love about Nyx was that she was unlike most heroines she had a wicked and cruel heart who thought of herself before others.
There are a lot of mentions of mythology throughout the book which at times made the story confusing but it made it interesting. In order to kill the Gentle Lord and save Arcadia, Nyx must find the four hearts of the elements according to Hermetic teachings that the book focuses on a lot. Will she find them and kill the Gentle Lord?
The Gentle Lord is nothing like what I imagined. He is a demon, a beautiful tempting demon. He is not the only one who lives in the castle, there is also a shadow named Shade. What would a book be without a love triangle? This one includes Nyx, Shade and the Gentle Lord. I couldn’t really understand her love for Shade and felt like the love triangle shouldn’t have been involved. There was so much potential but it wasn’t used right when it came to the romance in the story. However, the love between Nyx and Gentle Lord was dark and selfish but I loved it.
Overall, the story was dark and gloomy. It was not Disney whatsoever. It was about fulfilling your promise and having to choose between your true love or your family. You must betray one, who will it be?