Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe, #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28th 2014
Source: Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary: 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 used to believe that if I just tried hard enough, I could learn to love her without resentment, but finally I had accepted that it was impossible.”
That’s what I call a twisted good fairy tale! Cruel Beauty is being marketed as “Beauty and the Beast meets Graceling”, and at first glance that’s what you think. But then we’re also introduced to really interesting mythology to create a really amazing reading experience.
Our protagonist is Nyx, and she’s been taught her whole life to remember she must kill the man she is going to marry, so that she may save her village from an evil curse, when in reality everyone is expecting her to die. Nyx is definitely one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s so flawed, but in such a great way. Gone is the Belle-like selflessness and loyalty we expect to see, instead, we’re introduced to a girl whose heart is filled with hatred. She hates her father, hates her twin sister, but basically just hates the fact that she’s the one who has to carry with this burden. What did she ever do to deserve this? Nothing. Nothing at all.
“One of us had to die. That was the bargain Father had struck, and it was not her fault that he had picked her to be the one who lived, but every time she smiled, I still thought: She smiles because she is safe. She is safe because I am going to die.”
We the readers can’t help but relate to her, can’t help but be sympathetic towards her. I even came to hate her family as much as she did! Her only motivation is to keep her sister safe, because someone has to.
“I had to protect her- from the Gentle Lord but also from me, from the endless envy and resentment that seethed beneath my skin.”
Another character I really enjoyed was Ignifex. Ignifex is supposed to be the Beast in this story. And in a way, he is. Ignifex is a demon who grants wishes but at a cost. You want to spend the rest of your life with your true love even if she’s married to another? Well, your wish is granted. Too bad she’s going to die of Syphilis and give it to you right before she dies. Ignifex is charming and sarcastic, his looks are hard to ignore, and you’ll find you can’t help but love him. Ignifex was such a complex character! We get to meet him more personally, and realize things about him that make him that much lovable. And yet he’s so “evil”. He does evil deeds and doesn’t feel remorse at all. Yet we still love him.
If there was something captivating about this book, it was the fact that Nyx had to kill the man she was slowly falling in love with. How was she going to do that? I couldn’t even kill a man I hated, imagine someone I was in love with.
I can’t say I found something I hated about this book, except for the fact that in one point, the romance seemed to take precedence over the actual story. But don’t fret! Because this passes somewhat quickly and then we’re right back at the action. There is somewhat of a love triangle here, but it’s not annoying or anything. I was actually intrigued by it for a while.
Other than the amazing characters and intriguing storyline, we also see great twists and turns. Things we don’t expected or never imagined could happen,did. It helped keep you captivated throughout the whole story.
Overall, this book is very captivating, filled with romance, amazing characterization, and twists and turns you wouldn’t expect. Those looking for twisted fairy tales have found the right book.
Rating: 4.5 stars