Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray; 352 pages
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.
I loved Beauty and the Beast and I think my biggest flaw was I was really looking for comparisons. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty but I was really paying attention for anything that would make me go oh, that's so like the movie, you know? I'm a Disney girl at heart, you know, so I guess I have high standards! But this was definitely a dark, intriguing retelling and if weren't for me searching so much, I think I would've enjoyed this more. It's one of those books where I want to set it aside for a few months and come back to re-read it. I think it's one I'd enjoy a lot more the second time around, now that I know what's happening. I can't say for sure but I really feel like it's one of those books.
I really like Nyx (and can I just say how much I love this name?); when she's married off Ignifex, a demon lord, she thinks her life is over. All of his previous wives are dead so she knew her fate would eventually follow in their footsteps but she was so determined to kill him before he could kill her. What I never expected was the bantering between these two. I couldn't help but love the sarcasm, the smart-ass remarks dished out between these two. It's something I enjoyed most about this book; when the author put these two characters together in a room, it was bound to have me laughing.
Then there's Shade, a slave of Ignifex during the day but almost human during the evening hours. There's a love triangle going on here and it something I really didn't like. It was a weird love triangle. I can't really describe it nor can I say how I felt about it. It felt forced with Shade where the chemistry felt natural between Nyx and Ignifex. Bitter, at times, but natural.
While there things I expected there were things that I hadn't seen coming. It's always exciting to think you have the book figured out, and maybe you do have some of it figured out but then the author throws something else into the mix that makes you take a step back and go, woaaaah, what just happened?!
If you love retellings, I think this is one you'll enjoy. If you're looking for an awesome standalone (I'm pretty sure this a standalone, riiiight?), then this is something you should check out. I'll be honest and say I don't see too many non-contemporaries that are standalones so that right there is something refreshing, right?
Thank you so much to Harper for allowing me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.