Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
(Amazon|Book Depository|Goodreads)

Pages: 342
Source: Purchased
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #1
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Pubilcation Date: January 28th 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Magic, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult

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.

A Beauty and the Beast retelling, with Greek mythology, and magic? IS IT POSSIBLE TO NOT BE EXCITED? You know how much I love fairytale retellings, and this is definitely one of the best. What a beautifully unexpected and spellbinding adventure. Anissa approves, much approves.

Cruel Beauty Rosamund Hodge Review

My (not very successful) attempt at a MAJOR SWOON face

I get such a special kind of kick when I read fairytale retellings. I loves them. So, I’d better tell you now: this review is full of gushing and all the fangirling, because I can’t help but get violently excited when I love a book this much. (I feel like I’m always writing warnings of my excitement in my reviews – hmm).

“Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried.”

The story was beautiful, unique, and well written – there were a few plot holes that had me a bit confused, and the first couple of chapters were a bit slow and lacked dialogue, but that quickly picked up. I’ve never read any of Rosamund Hodge’s books before this, but I’ll certainly read all of her others after this. She has quickly become one my new favourite authors, and I love finding new favourite authors (I love a lot today, apparently).


Cruel Beauty is set in Arcadia, a land with a paper sky, and demons that come out at night. There’s a lot of world building, and a lot of references to Greek mythology, which I LOVED, even if I didn’t know all the references. But OMG the quotes are to die for, somebody please hold my hand.

“You fought and fought to keep all the cruelty locked up in your head, and for what? None of them ever loved you, because none of them ever knew you”

The book starts off with a lot of angst (understandably), and our main character, Nyx, is hot-headed. I loved Nyx; it was incredibly refreshing to have a YA heroine like her. She was harsh and strong. She didn’t always filter what she said and she didn’t make excuses for the wickedness in her. We aren’t all Saints, and we all have our demons, after all (I’m sounding a little bit ominous there, aren’t I?).

“That’s what makes you my favourite.” He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. “Every wicked bit of you”.

HOW BEAUTIFUL WAS THAT QUOTE? My heart of ice might just have melted. Read the full quote in here, if you dare: View Spoiler »


I absolutely detested Astraia, Nyx’s sister; if she wasn’t weak and pathetic I thought she was manipulative and cruel. Don’t even get me started on Nyx’s father. I would so Avada Kedabra him. ANYWAYS, I have more important things to talk about. *evil grin*

There is a sort of “love triangle” in this book, but it’s not really. In the mansion, Nyx meets Shade, a shadow, and Ignifex, the beast that Nyx is married off to. Shade was quite a bland character for me. How awesome are all the names in this book, by the way? I loved them all.

“But you know what you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That’s why I love you.”

Although Ignifex wasn’t beastly in his appearance, apart from his eyes, he did do evil deeds. He was so incredibly hilarious and intelligent, I loved the repartee between him and Nyx. I SHIP THEM SO HARD. So many heart-melting moments, and laugh out loud conversations. He is definitely one of my favourites, because we all know I love villains with a heart of gold. View Spoiler »


The story was restless. It was playful, and Nyx was cheeky. There wasn’t a moment where she wasn’t up to something. I loved reading about all the different rooms and the keys she was stealing. All in all, this was a fantastic read and definitely not one to be missed!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.2 / 5

About Rosamund Hodge

Rosamund Hodge

Rosamund Hodge grew up as a homeschooler in Los Angeles, where she spent her time reading everything she could lay hands on, but especially fantasy and mythology. She got a BA in English from the University of Dallas and an MSt in Medieval English from Oxford, and she now lives in Seattle with seven toy cats and a plush Cthulhu.

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  • Reply
    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages
    January 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    OH MY GOD, JUST STOOOP! Stop reading books that I haven’t read yet! This one is on my TBR list and went down a bit more whenever I added some new books but … I WANT IT NOOOW! I love villains too and if you liked Ignifex so much, I’m sure I will too! GOOOOSH!

    Hoooow should I afford this? I mean, I barely have space on my shelves left (I’m not kidding!) and there are SO MANY amazing 2016 releases that I want to buy. And now this. I CAAAAAN’T, Anissa! How dare you make me want to read this?! 😀

    Besides that, I really, really liked your review! ♥ It sounds freaking fantastic and I’m super curious now … I love retellings a lot so ughhh, I guess this’ll have to go to my “to-buy-asap” list. Sigh.

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Hahahaha Yvonne!!! <3 Thank you sooo much - you really need to get your hands on a copy of this soon, you would love Ignifex!! 😀 😀

  • Reply
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing
    January 5, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    You are making me want to read this book! I read Crimson Bound by this author but wasn’t impressed so I never considered reading her other novels. But you are making it sounds so good, Anissa! Your enthusiasm is catchy 🙂

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      I haven’t read Crimson Bound yet, but it’s sitting on my shelf so I will have to soon – it’s a shame you didn’t like it so much! I really loved Cruel Beauty, so I *hope* Crimson Bound will be as good, but I’ll go in not expecting too much. 😀

  • Reply
    January 5, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I am such a sucker for fairy tale retellings, and I loved Cruel Beauty as well. I thought it was super unique, and yes, definitely swoon-worthy! Great review!

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      They are the best! Thank you so much 😀

  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 2:13 am

    I was just reading the blurb for this the other day after hearing some wonderful things about it and it immediately drew my attention! I love Beauty and the Beast and I love re-tellings so it’s definitely been added to my TBR list 🙂

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      You should definitely get your hands on a copy of this if you can, I really loved it (clearly ahah)! 😀

  • Reply
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland
    January 6, 2016 at 2:50 am

    YASSS! This book is so good! I really need to reread it soon because I haven’t read it since 2013. But when I did read it I completely neglected uni for 24 hours until it was complete. NO REGRETS.

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      SOOOO GOOOD! I read it in one day too! I still need to read Crimson Bound and I’m just hoping it will be as good! x)

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
    January 6, 2016 at 6:09 am

    I have wanted to read this ever since I saw the gorgeous cover. Plus it’s a retelling, which is exactly what I’m into right now. And I didn’t even KNOW it had creatures and mythology too! This book sounds great! And yes, we do all love villains with hearts of gold 😛

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      You need to get your hands on a copy of this soon, it really is amazing! Ignifex is just… <3 And right, how awesome are fairytale retellings at the moment?!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    This book sounds awesome! The cover is so beautiful (I love the optical-illusion-esque Rose thing going on), and I love retellings too. It seems so good, so I really need to get to this. I can’t wait until I can read it, especially because you recommend it so much! It sounds just like my cup of tea.

    Great review! Thanks for sharing this book with me 🙂

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      The cover is gorgeous, and what’s inside is even more so! I hope you get your hands on a copy of it soon, I’d love to know what you think of it! 🙂 Thank you!

  • Reply
    Top 10 Hidden Gems To Be Released in 2016 - She Reads Too Much
    January 7, 2016 at 10:42 am

    […] reading Cruel Beauty, I fell in love with Hodge’s writing. So when I found out her next book is a Romeo & […]

  • Reply
    January 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Hmmm I get the impression that you liked this one, just a bit? 😉 I’ve been on the fence about whether I want to read it or not, but I might have to put it on my ‘more maybe than not’ list for now 🙂

    Great review, thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Lol, yes, indeed more than a little! 😀 You should check it out sometime if you can, it’s great! 😀 Thank you!

  • Reply
    Leigh @ Little Book Star
    January 11, 2016 at 5:30 am

    YES! I am so glad that you loved this book! It’s one of my all time favorite books because of the gorgeous writing, world building, and the TWISTS! I was so blown away.

    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      YAY, so glad you loved it too – it’s so amazing!! <3

  • Reply
    January 30, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I was on Reading Is My Breathing blog and when I went to see the comments I saw your last blog post was this post and I had to check it out because I read Cruel Beauty this month and liked it sooo much!
    The writing style!!! OMG it was beautiful. How can someone have this much talent? And I also loved the incorporation of Greek Mythology. And the world is SO AWESOME! A painted sky? That’s just ajusndk.
    Ignifex and Nyx are made for each other.
    All the quotes are beautiful!
    Can we get into a SPOILERS section?
    For me, what made me like less the book was the ending. I really think it should have ended with Nyx betraying Ignifex. That part was just awesome and memorable. If it had ended that way it would be different and cause a lot of heart breaks, which would make people remember the book better and like it more just because it dared to make the readers suffer so much. The way it was written seemed kind of convenient. What do you think?

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      OMGSHHHHHH FANGIRLING HEAVEN!!! 😀 😀 This comment made me sooooo happy haha. I loved this book so much, gah it was done so well!! I’m so glad that it ended the way it did though, I’m a sucker for happy endings and if it was a sad ending I probably would have cried LOL! Although I totally do see how it would have been fitting!!

  • Reply
    Daniela Ark
    February 6, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I’m not a lot into fairytales retelling but the writing seems to be pretty good! love the quotes. I just added it to GR 🙂

    • Reply
      March 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      It’s a very interesting read, I hope you get a chance to read it soon. 🙂

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