Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
“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.”1
You had me at Beauty and the Beast.
Nyx has known her fate for many years. The poison in her heart ever growing and the hate towards her twin sister Astraia as well. She wishes her father would acknowledge her and show her love instead of using her as a weapon for his own vengeance.
The Gentle Lord, The Lord of demons, lives in a castle high upon the hill. He bargains with those foolish enough to do so. He believes his bargains are fair and the punishments are just.
When Nyx is forced to marry the Gentle Lord she finds herself in a mysterious castle. Vast hallways and doors within, yet a single tower and ruins is the only thing seen from outside. The rooms change and only some of the locks work with the key she was given. Strange and magical things are hidden behind each door. As her days go on, her fears of the Gentle Lord begin to subside. Her bravery allows her to explore the castle and discover qualities in him that ultimately lead to an unexpected and forbidden love.
Nyx must choose between honouring her family and dead mother and discovering true love. She has always done what others have guided her to do, but her strength leads her to somewhere no one would have thought possible.
Beauty and the Beast is a favourite story of mine. When I saw this debut novel by Rosamund Hodge I had to get my hands on it. There are many things from the original tale that Hodge has placed her own twist to which are imaginative and magical. Hodge creates a unique world with elemental magic (hermetics) and Greek mythology. Although these elements are added to the story giving it a unique twist, I feel like there is more to that world of hermetic arts that could have been explored. There was such an importance to the learning and practicing of this art and in the end they weren’t really used. The story also relies heavily on Greek history and other tales of Gods and Hedge Gods. It gives us a basis of many of the events in the novel which may have hindered more than helped. There was a greater focus on the tales and less on the elements and magic behind it.
I was very eager to read this book when I saw it but in the end I was not overly thrilled with the story. There are many positive qualities and ideas that I give props to the author for. It’s these things that make the book worth recommending to experience but overall it was just an okay read for me. Hodge has a second novel based in the same world but with a Cinderella twist called Gilded Ashes set to come out in April. I am hoping there is more of the magic that I enjoyed verses the Greek mythology.
1. Book summary courtesy of