Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, YA
First published: 2014
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Synopsis: Nyx was trained her whole life for one purpose: to marry and destroy the Gentle Lord - the demon who has been terrorizing her country for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, she leaves her home and the family she resents for choosing this fate for her, and goes to fulfill her duty. But when she reaches her new home, nothing is as she expected, least of all her husband. As she tried to learn Ignifex's secrets and fulfill her duty, Nyx finds that perhaps her husband is not so different from herself. Can a girl with poison in her heart and a monster save the world?
This is a very difficult book to rate and review. I ended up giving it 4.5 stars because it's the average between 4 and 5. The first 100 or so pages of this book were pretty dull. And considering the book has about 350, that's nearly a third of it. But the rest of it was so mad and brilliant and I loved it so much, that I just couldn't help but give it a high rating.
I think a lot of people will find this book meh, because it's not a very rigorously structured novel, it's got a lot of "plot holes" and it can get pretty confusing. It's riddled with paradoxes and circular reasoning and sophisms. But that's exactly why I loved it so much.
Cruel Beauty is advertised as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but that's an oversimplification. It's more like Greek tragedy meets Rumplestiltskin meets Beauty and the beast meets Doctor Who. Or The Matrix. The whole concept of the book was really cool and interesting and unique, but also very familiar. Because there were so many familiar elements: the magic mirror, roses, a curse, the bargains, the guessing of the name and a whole lot of Greek mythology, particularly the legends of Pandora and Persephone. But all these elements were woven together into something other.
This was a story of love and desire, of kind monsters and cruel gods. The title is so fitting, I love the title. It's perfect for the book. The lines between cruelty and kindness, between good and evil, between right and wrong, love and hate, beauty and ugliness were all so blurred. In a way that they are blurred within all of us, because nobody is entirely good or entirely evil or entirely kind. I don't know how to explain it better, you just have to read it to see what I mean.
There was a little bit of insta-love. Sort of. I'm not sure if I can classify it as such, because I'm not sure it was love at all. It's very confusing. But I didn't mind it that much, because it wasn't your typical insta-love. As everything else in this book, it's hard to explain without spoiling the whole thing.
The book doesn't have a lot of characters. There are great portions of the book when it's just Nyx. And the house. I think Ignifex's house can be considered a character in itself. But somehow, it didn't need more characters. This was a book that wasn't based that much on plot and wasn't based that much on characters. It obviously has both, but I got the impression that the focus was inner conflict and just the general philosophy of the human condition. That's what I took from it and that's why I loved it so much.
I don't know how helpful this review is. I've done my best to describe it to you without spoiling it, which proved to be pretty difficult for me. But I do recommend it, especially if you like Doctor Who. Because just like Doctor Who, the book makes no sense if you try to explain it, but once you read it, it makes perfect and beautiful sense. As long as you don't think too much about it. The whole book is a sophism.
Published by Romana Pop