Series: Standalone (also has a novella called Gilded Ashes)
Genera(s): Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Subjects: retellings, demons, supernatural, magic, mythology, gods and goddesses
Setting: Arcadia (an Island that has been cut off from the world)
POV/Tense: 1st person past tense: Nyx
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 342 pgs.
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: HarperTeen: Balzer + Bray
Summary/ product description: “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
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.
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 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. 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.
My Review: Cruel Beauty is a romantic retelling of Beauty and the Beast intertwined with Greek mythology. The beauty is a girl named Nyx who has to marry a demon king, Ignifex. Nyx is very angry inside and not happy with her situation. She’s nothing like Belle at all. Ignifex is not an ugly beast either. He’s handsome, but has red cat eyes and black wings (when he makes them appear). He makes bargain with people, and these bargains always have disastrous consequences.
I loved the interaction and dialogue between Nyx and Ignifex. Nyx hated him because of what he does; yet fell in love with him. It sounds like a case of Stockholm syndrome. I loved some of the thing she said to him and his replies. She was always saying that she could kill him, and she never did. He never harmed her either. They both had darkness in them, but they found light within each other.
The world building was pretty interesting. Arcadia is a island that has been sundered (cut off from the world). We have no idea with year it is. I’m not even sure where Arcadia is supposed to be. The Mediterranean? I’m not clear on whether this is a fantasy world, or just a place cut off from the rest of the world. It could be set in 1000 AD, possibly. They said they were sundered 900 years ago, but some of the stuff in the book seemed Medieval or Renaissance age. I also liked the whole paradox of Arcadia that we find out about.
The plot wasn’t the most exciting this I’ve read. It’s a pretty good retelling. I like the changed made from what I remember of the Disney version. I felt like it was also a retelling of Hades and Persephone. Cruel Beauty wasn’t exactly what I expected. It wasn’t boring Hist Fic like all the Victorian Era books I tried to read. I recommend Cruel Beauty if you like the Abandoned series by Meg Cabot, Falling Under by Gwen Hayes, or the Everneath series by Brodi Ashton.
Cover Art Review: I love the rose combined with the spiral steel staircase. It’s so well intertwined. I also love the velvet texture.