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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“Cruel Beauty” by Rosamund Hodge (Reviewed by Casey Blair)


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Read An Excerpt HERE

ABOUT CRUEL BEAUTY: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, 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. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

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.

FORMAT/INFO: Cruel Beauty is 352 pages long and was published in Hardcover on January 28, 2014 via Balzer + Bray.

ANALYSIS: Rosamund Hodge's debut, Cruel Beauty, is a gorgeous YA high fantasy romance. The book is stand-alone, but I can't wait to see what the author does next.

I've said before that I weary of Greek mythology, but, proving to me that no idea is tired by itself if you're doing something sufficiently cool, Rosamund Hodge has adapted and twisted the mythology in fascinating ways. She's also pulled bits of mythology outside of Greek mythology as well as weaving her own inventions through it all, and the structure of this world is cunning and enthralling.

I loved how aware and frank and honest the protagonist Nyx was. But what really drew me to her was her anger. I loved the conflict of reading her try so hard to fit herself both inwardly and outwardly to be “good,” her intellectual determination at odds with her conviction, and that when the anger erupts out of her and she stands unashamedly as herself, she is not reviled. She is beautiful with her anger.

In Cruel Beauty people have “darkness” in them and are still not wastes of humanity. They do horrible things to each other, and yet a little bit of compassion can make all the difference. Not excusing the horrible, but allowing that there is space for both, and that matters.

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