Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

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Another retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a fantasy world rather than within our own. On her seventeenth birthday, Nyx, is sent to marry her betrothed, the evil Ignifex who has cured her land and her people for the past nine hundred years. Her aim is to kill him but, in the process of finding his weakness she slowly begins to fall in love and unravel the events and secrets that transpired nine hundred years ago.

I really enjoyed this retelling more than I thought I would. Nyx is full of anger and resentment at the task that has been thrust upon her since her birth, while her sister enjoys the attention from their father and the small pleasures within their life. Before she is sent away Nyx confronts her sister who is naïve to the fact that Nyx may not ever be able to kill the Lord of the manor leaving a sour taste in both her and her sister. As soon as she arrives Nyx makes her first attempt which fails, leaving Nyx on unsteady ground with her captor. I preferred Nyx to other re-makings of Belle. As she starts to become infatuated with the Lord and his comforting shadow she questions whether she is actually falling in love with him, refusing to believe that she could fall in love so quickly. If you have read some of my previous reviews you will know how much I cannot stand insta-love, Nyx is one of the few characters I have read to question her love and put it down to infatuation. Apart from that Nyx is like many young adult female characters. She questions her mission and longs for forgiveness and acceptance from her father and sister. Apart from questioning her love there is nothing new with her compared to other young adult characters I have read.

Ignifex however, there is more to him than originally meets the eye. He has a shadow, which at night is able to wander the castle freely and interact with Nyx. Together they are Nyx’s captors with an interesting backstory of their own. Ignifex exudes danger and sex while his counterpart shadow shows constraint and determination. Together they make an interesting pairing and I would have loved to have seen more interaction between the two of them. We rarely see them both together, choosing to interact with Nyx separately. I had roughly guessed how the shadow and Ignifex fitted together but when I finally got to the explanation is felt rushed and I lost what had actually happened.

I did enjoy this novel but I felt that the ending wasn’t as refined as it could have been. With so much happening and the switching between times I felt it could have been slowed down and more emphasis placed on the deal that had been made and what that would mean for the future. The magic that is important at the beginning is lost somewhere while Nyx and Ignifex work each other out. While I know not everything can be explained I think some more description of the magic and where it actually comes from would have benefited myself. This is certainly one of the better retellings I have read and would recommend it to those who love Beauty and Beast and are not afraid to see it in a slightly different setting.

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