This book reminded me of why I love fantasy.. or in general, why I love reading. Rosamund Hodge is a marvel at world building and knowing this book is her debut just makes her a writing God.
Original Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hedge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 28th, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher, thank you!
Genre: Fantasy, 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.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TITLE
This is so carefully thought out. Yeah, this book is loosely based on "Beauty and the Beast". But, it's nothing like the original, but I think it's equally beautiful in a dark way. Our protagonist is not the kind soul that you hear about; she is flawed, she is cruel, she is rude and selfish... "Cruel beauty" sounds such an apt way to describe her. And that applies to this book too.. It's so beautiful, in a completely different way.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE COVER
When I first saw the cover, I didn't think much about it. Now, I really just want to give a standing ovation to the designer. The rose, the dark lonely endless corridors and the girl alone in all this - makes so much sense. It's beautiful. What is more beautiful is the words on the book.
Her mission was to kill himHer destiny was to love him.
When this might sound as a simple plot line, this isn't. It's as complicated as it gets.
When it started, I was having a very moody time, that I wanted to pick up another book. That continued until 25% of the book. Remember that this is not because of anything to do with the plot, but with the mood of the novel. It was so gloomy, so even when I am sitting in a room filled with bright light, I was feeling all dark and glum. This dark feeling didn't go throughout the book, because of the setting, but I got so immersed in it and started enjoyed so much after some time, that I want to give up my breakfast and sit with my book.
Both the main characters, Ignifex and Nyx, were not the regular good people, which is usually written about. They are bad and they do bad things to hurt the people they love. But, that's what make it realistic about the characters. Jealousy between the siblings is normal; yes, it happens even to the adults. And when Nyx's father 'sacrifice' her, instead of her sister, in order to 'save' their land, Arcadia, I understand the love-hate feeling she starts to develop towards her sister. She is human, after all, and the need to be loved and get married like regular girls sure made her heart filled with some poison. But, again, I know we are all capable of such thoughts.
I had thought the words so often, they felt like nothing in my mouth, like no more than a breath of air, and as easily as breathing I went on:
“The truth is, Mother died because of you, and now I have to die for your sake too. And neither one of us will ever forgive you.”
Then I shoved her aside and strode out of the room.
Yes, this is cruel..and she regrets it immediately; now you get a glimpse of who her protogonist is? But, if you read the novel, you will really know what made her like that.
When she is pushed into the demonic castle to marry the Gentle Lord, the prince of the Monsters aka Ignifex, she hated her father, her sister, the Gentle Lord and herself (for being selfish). Nyx is trained all her life to seduce the monster and kill him, even though it might mean killing herself in the process. Now, Ignifex, her enemy, likes her for what she truly is. Noone knows the true her; she had made sure to hide the venom in her to everyone. Nyx can't help but feel happy for someone who loves her knowing everything about her, even though that someone is a monster, who bargains with innocent people and lead them to misery. And there is this other problem where Nyx seeks comfort with - Shade, Ignifex's shadow.
"This house has many danger. I cannot save you from most of them." I let go and forced a smile. "I wasn't born to be saved."
Nyx soon learns that her plan to save the world is flawed and there are so many secrets that she didn't know. In that palace which is a better-to-be-in-a-horror-movie-than-to-be-here labyrinth, Nyx should find a way to save her people and also make the decision of choosing between the "love and trust of Ignifex" to the "love and trust of her family and countless other people".
The world building was amazing or should I say darkly artistic? As I said, the author has maintained the sullen mood of the book throughout, leaving me with the need to go out in the sun and breathe when I finished. If you read about the world of Arcadia, you would know it's a wild imagination. I don't want to spoil the setting for you, but I assure you that it's one of the best.
The writing was terrific. The author has brought in so many Greek mythological parts in the book. Though I felt this to be an info-dump at the start, after some time, these were small distractions between the complicated plot line giving me some break.
I enjoyed this book so much that I feel like crying. Do I even have to say it? Just read it! But wait, you don't like fantasy? Then read it just to feel Rosamund's extraordinary writing skills.
Over-the-top plot, graceful writing, achingly beautiful romance and outstanding setting. This is a masterpiece!