In this twist on the classic fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” Nyx has been raised her whole life knowing that it is her destiny to marry the Dark Lord, the evil ruler of her kingdom. On her seventeenth birthday Nyx marries Ignifex with one mission, kill him and free Arcadia, even though she will likely die in the process. Of course, like in “Beauty and the Beast,” things aren’t quite so straightforward once Nyx gets to know her mysterious husband. She is intrigued by and drawn to Ignifex and her commitment to what she has been tasked to do begins to waver.
Hodge has created a unique world in her novel. Nyx’s kingdom is completely cut off from the outside world, thanks to the Dark Lord, and is plagued by demons. The world of Cruel Beauty combines elements of both Greek and Roman mythology. Hodge’s writing is beautiful and I could easily picture the kingdom of Arcadia and Ignifex’s constantly changing mansion as Nyx searches for a way to fulfill her mission. Hodge’s detailed descriptions of setting and of Nyx, a strong yet imperfect heroine, were two of my favorite elements of this book.
For lovers of fairy tale retellings and fantasy, Cruel Beauty will not disappoint. My only quibble is that the ending felt a little rushed, after a lot of build up. But overall, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite books of 2014, and I will definitely read Hodge’s next novel Crimson Bound.
Check this book out or put it on hold.