Rating: 4 OWLS
This is my very first written review of a book so hopefully it will be a good one. I find it fitting that I start book blogging and review writing with this novel, since Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairytale. Additionally, I am fascinated by mythology and have spent a lot of time in highschool reading Greek mythology. I found Cruel Beauty to be an exceptional marriage of a fairytale retelling and mythology, both fused into a very unique fantasy world.
From the first chapter I was drawn into the world created by Rosamund Hodge, and needless to say I devoured this book. Hodge took a great deal of time and effort to describe the world she envisioned making it very easy for me as a reader to feel transported into a whole new world.
The main character, Nyx, was very well developed and was very relatable. Too often in YA the main character is portrayed as somewhat perfect. Pretty face, beautiful eyes, selfless, etc. Nyx on the other hand is angry, and filled with awful thoughts. Given the fact that she was bargained away by her father and was raised to hate the Gentle Lord while still being forced to marry him, entitles her to react the way she does. Her heart is filled with rage and bitterness towards her family which I found very realistic given her circumstances. Her character was a great balance of wanting to do the right thing, while still being angry; I found her character to be quite refreshing and unlike the usual female character portraied in most fiction.
I loved both Ignifex and Shade for different reasons. They appear to be two sides of a coin, but as the story goes on we see a tender side to Ignifex and a cruel side of Shade. The mixture of good and bad in the two characters will have readers second guessing the characters and flip-flopping between the two. The Gentle Lord is the Lord of Bargains. While from the very beginning we are expected to perhaps hate him for his unjust ways, I found him interesting. Yes he made bargains with people that never ended well, but he never sought out people. I think as people we tend to always put blame elsewhere and never take full responsibility for our actions. Ignifex made mention about those who strike bargains with him. He made pretty convincing arguments about the nature of the people and the terrible things people are capable of to get what they want, including her father who bargained away the life of his own daughter. Again, Hodge did a great job presenting the uglier side of human nature.
Even with the dark tone of the book, I found myself filled with hope. I was rooting for all these characters. I found each of them to have a great mixture of good and bad, making them flawed and more believable. My only complaint in the book is the insta love, but I really don’t want to discuss it in my review as it would be a spoiler.
The writing style was beautiful, lyrical, and poetic. As I mentioned before, there was a lot of world development. I found myself lost in the world created and when the book was finished all I wanted to do is start it over.