Review: Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge

[I am currently on holidays until the end of August, I’ll be replying to you all, blog-hopping again and everything then! Thank you for understanding, love you all!]

There are no spoilers in this review.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and, if I have some of them on my TBR already, Cruel Beauty is the first retelling I have ever read. With an interesting concept at its heart, mixing between the actual fairy tale we all know and a new, different and dark world filled with mythological roots, Cruel Beauty was, for sure, an interesting read, but ultimately a bit disappointing in some aspects.


β€œDon’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.”


Ever since she was born, Nyx’s destiny had already been made up for her. She would grow to marry a monster, the monster ruling the land with his bargains and terrifying everyone in Arcadia, and she would try to kill him. Never having any kind of choice in the matter, Nyx had resolved herself to embrace this forged path the best she could, only…she didn’t plan on falling in love.

All of the elements of the original fairy tale are present and accounted for: the small village, the girl, the father, the monster, the big, abandoned castle; yet everything is made up with twists and turns, differences that make us rediscover and appreciate the story under a whole new light. In this world the author creates, there is a fear of demons, magic exists and so does Greek mythology, always intertwined with reality.

If this world was completely re-invented, in some ways, it is also what had me quite confused, more than once during my read. I was half fascinated by it all, the stories, the constant references to many mythological elements…and I was half very confused. If these parts of the story helped shape the world and understand it better, which I was grateful for, it also felt like too much at times, and made my interest towards what was actually happening deviate slightly, which was a bit of a shame.




Cruel Beauty is told from Nyx’s point of view. I promise I didn’t pick up this book because the main character is named like my sister…weeeeeeeeell not entirely. Nyx was an interesting, flawed and certainly well-shaped protagonist. She felt more than once selfish, annoying and I wanted to shake some sense into her more than once for the decisions she made and the thoughts she allowed herself to have – however, that selfishness and these flaws made her feel real for sure. I would be lying if I said she was my favorite character of all times, yet the internal struggles she faced and the way she reacted were entirely realistic, which is something, really, I can’t blame.

β€œWhy is he scared of the dark?”

I meant the words for a joke, but Shade nodded seriously. “Like all monsters. Because it reminds him of what he truly is”.”

Ignifex, on the other hand, was a very intriguing character. I loved how, slowly but surely, we discovered parts of him we didn’t know and how he transformed, from the image of the monster everyone had of him, to someone completely different and three-dimensional. I never thought I would root for him, but my heart slowly grew soft whenever he came in. I loved discovering that he was more than the cruel monster everyone painted him to be.


β€œThey said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense.
But now I knew that every mad word was true.”


There would be tons to say about the relationships in this book, yet I find myself a bit at a loss for words. Nyx and Ignifex’s relationship grow quite slowly, at the beginning, as she grows accustomed to him and gets to know him a teensy bit better, but then I found out that there was quite a little lapse of time that missed in between the moment they meet and the moment she puts words on what she feels for him, already defining it as love. It wasn’t insta-love, that’s for sure, but I think I would have liked a little more of a slow development of the relationships and feelings, especially given their particular situation.

There is another particular situation on which I won’t dwell too long because spoilers, but there is quite a little bit of a love triangle at a moment, which I found a little odd.

What ultimately surprised me in this story, both in a good and bad way, was the pacing. I found myself intrigued, wanting to know more, seeing how everything would develop, both the relationships and the actual plot, which was, if you remember, Nyx being driven by her need to kill the monster. I quite expected this to be fast-paced and filled with thrilling, suspenseful moments, secrets rooms and monsters or demons or darkness swallowing them whole, yet Cruel Beauty kind of fell on the slow side of the spectrum at times, for me. I enjoyed it as a whole, even if at times, I found the story dragging on a little bit…Which gave an interesting place for the relationship and house-exploring to grow, but not for the big action to take place.


Despite the criticism I have about this book, Cruel Beauty was still a lovely read. I enjoyed the complex world-building, heavily relying on myths and giving it all an interesting dimension, I enjoyed the realistic and flawed characters and relationships and, most of it all, I enjoyed the explorations of this big and magical castle within the story. I’d recommend it if you’re into retellings and mythology, Beauty and the Beast, a teensy bit of magic and romance as well.

Final rating:Β  3 drops!

Β Do you want to read Cruel Beauty? Did you read it, or any other Beauty & The Beast retellings? Which ones would you recommmend? Share your thoughts in comments!

Rosamund Hodge, Cruel Beauty, Β Published by Balzer + Bray, January 28th, 2014.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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 castleβ€”a shifting maze of magical roomsβ€”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.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

41 thoughts on “Review: Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge

  1. I love a good retelling! I don’t know if this one would be for me, but I have read some amazing retellings lately, like The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury. The Lunar Chronicles are pretty good retellings too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH! I’m SO glad you mentioned this book: The Forbidden Wish is one of my favorites of ALL times. I loved it so much! ❀ ❀ Same goes for The Lunar Chronicles πŸ™‚ ❀
      Thank you so much, Em! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Hannah, I am ❀ You're so sweet ❀ There isn't a quite detailed description of Ignifex's appearance, except for his wolf-ish eyes, if I remember correctly. He's described as the prince of demons, and he is pretty bad with his behaviour, yet we never really know if we can picture him as the actual Beast from the tale…That's something that was a bit confusing, actually, ahah πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw, I’m sorry the world-building didn’t live up to your expectations though the characters seem like the saving grace of this book. I’m still going to give this one a try someday soon. Loved your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Beauty and The Beast retellings but I still haven’t read this yet because I’ve seen so many people got disappointed with it. I’ll definitely give this a try someday but I’m not in a hurry to read it. Nice Review btw! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Marie, and I’m so glad you enjoyed Cruel Beauty as well. πŸ™‚ This is one I read quite a while ago now, I’m a massive fan of fairytale retellings so this one was at the top of my to-read list when I discovered it so many years ago. I really enjoyed it but I get what you mean about being a little confused over the world building at times. Also I’m still confused by the ending, did you understand it when you read Cruel Beauty, maybe I just need to try re-reading this book now I’m older. πŸ™‚
    Again great review! πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! I agree with you, it was good but a bit confusing at times, with all of the stories and mythological aspects included, it made me lose track a little bit at times. Thank you! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Marie! Lovely review ❀

    I've heard mixed things about this book much like your review states. I had heard it was of a slow pace… What a fascinating combination you make note of with the slow pacing and heavy mythological elements. It annoys me when time isn't take to explore the creation of a relationship… that is why we are reading people! (I mean authors!) Still every time I decide to keep this on my tbr… I want to read more retellings and see what writing advice I would dispense πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So I read this one AGES ago and…remember barely nothing.πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š Except I do recall being really confused and having to have people clarify the ending with me haha. But I gave it 4-stars so I must’ve been somewhat impressed?!? I really liked the mythology aspects and the castle that changed the room sand stuff. THAT IS SO COOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually had a hard time getting into this story, because like you, the world confused me. It actually took me three tries before I could finish the book, and luckily I loved it the last time.
    I also agree with you on the romance. I don’t think it was instalove, but like you said it kind of felt like there was a gap. I feel like their relationship progressed slowly, but that we missed most of that progression, so it felt fast? I don’t know if that makes sense. The love triangle was bizarre!! It still kind of weirds me out.. I did love Ignifex, and thought he was one of the best parts of the book.
    I’ve been wondering, how do you prounounce Nyx? Is it like Nihcks? Or something else, like Neex? It’s a really pretty name.
    Wonderful review! I loved reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one confused by the book. I’m happy you ended up loving it, though! πŸ™‚
      It does make a lot of sense – I felt the same way. We saw the “before” they love each other and when it actually is love, but the falling in love part was kind of … missing? It was a bit weird :/
      In my mind, I pronounce it like “Neex”, but I’m not sure hahaha πŸ™‚
      Thank you SO much, you’re the sweetest ❀


  8. Oh, I’m glad you semi-enjoyed this, Marie! I disliked this book because Nyx was so all-over-the-place and it annoyed me, plus it felt a little like insta-love. AND I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. I definitely agree that the world was SUPER intriguing and could’ve been so much more if it weren’t so confusing. The ending was bittersweetly good, tho! Love your review. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not too fond of love triangles either, and THAT ONE WAS SO WEIRD?!! I mean, it had me confused. Nyx wasn’t the best character either, I had a hard time with her. It was such a promising book 😦
      Thank you so, so much ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I read this book not too long ago and I remember it pretty good. I liked how the author described the romance, plus ignifex totally won my heart over (I do get what you mean with the whole weird love triangle thing- BTW I hate love triangles and was totally team Ignifex from the start)! The book was a little confusing in the end but I remember really liking it!
    Ur blog is super cute BTW πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Ignifex was such a great character, I agree πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you ended up enjoying this book a lot πŸ™‚ Thank you so, so much for your comment and compliment, Jamie, that means so much to me! ❀ ❀


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