May 13, 2017

Cruel Beauty: A Rambling Review

15839984Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I found this one super easy to just fall into and keep reading. I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings and this one was no exception. The world-building was really interesting and different from previous BatB retellings I've read; I liked how it involved Greco-Roman mythology. I'm not usually big on traditional demons so this version of demons – no horns or tails involved, no smoldering sulphur pits or whatever – more or less worked for me. I do wish some of the plot points, particularly the climactic scene, were a little clearer, as I am still confused about what happened (spoilers, highlight to read: what was the Kindly Ones' riddle, and why was 'a handful of happiness' the answer? Was Ignifex or Shade the prince's anger?). Also, I distrusted Ignifex through a large part of the story because we really aren't given much insight into his thoughts or feelings; this compromised the romance aspect somewhat for me because I was wary of Ignifex and if we could believe him.

Nyx I found to be a somewhat melodramatic heroine, who was a little too keen on mental self-flagellation ('I'm such a bad person, there's such hate in my heart') without that much evidence to back up that she actually deserved all this criticism. I mean, she wasn't too fond of her family, but who can blame her? Her dad and aunt treated her terribly, and don't get me started on her sister... It also irritated me that Nyx kept changing her mind about things based on how she was feeling in a given moment (this is a common pet peeve of mine for YA novels, and while I can understand it to some extent given the premise, it became repetitive as the novel wore on).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the fairytale feel to the narrative, and the descriptions of setting (so many different rooms in that castle!) added to the magical flavour. I also liked all the allusions to the original fairytale, which worked while still having the story be entirely its own.

Also, the plot point that happens towards the end that changes everything (being super vague here so as not to spoil, here are more specifics, highlight to read: when the prince opens the box and time unravels all the way back to before the original bargain was made) was quite bold, and made the ending a little less traditional.


  1. I've only read a couple of re-tellings. Maybe I'll try another.

  2. I too am a big fan of fairy tale retellings, and I liked this one pretty well, EXCEPT for the romance part of it (I too had a hard time accepting/connecting w/the guy). For me it was maybe a B, B-? But then I ADORED Hodge's short story retelling of Cinderella, so I'll probably continue to check out all of her books.

    1. Oh, that's good to hear about the Cinderella retelling! I am not normally a big fan of short stories, but I might have to check this one out :)

    2. By the way, have you read Crimson Bound?


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