Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

July 2, 2014 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer & Bray on January 28, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny.

But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is as she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband.

Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

This was a book of mixed feelings.  I love the original Beauty and the Beast story as well as the Disney adaptation, so I was a little leery of picking up this retelling on Audible (audiobook format).  Right from the beginning, Hodge’s version is heavily steeped in Greek mythology which can be a little distracting when you’re paying more attention to figuring out the mythological reference than what’s happening in the story.  Much of the first half of the book is full of info-dumping without a whole lot of anything going on.  I picked the book up and put it down too many times to count and very nearly gave up on it completely.

That said, I’m actually glad I didn’t put the book aside permanently.  Where Beauty was kind and loving, Nyx is angry and resentful.  Where the Beast was selfish and petulant, Ignifex is perceptive and, at times, almost self-sacrificing.  It made for an interesting dynamic once things actually got started (about half way through the book).  The second half of the story almost made up for the dragging tediousness of the beginning.  Hodge’s use of imagery and language border on literary and I am completely in love with her style of prose.  I think it was this talent that kept me listening to the audio.  I am so glad too because the entire story is dark, twisted, and utterly satisfying.  As soon as the audiobook was complete, I wanted to pick it back up and start it all over again (and very likely will when I get a break in my to-read list).

All-in-all, a solid book.  Borderline gothic, phenomenal world-building, and refreshing characters.  I suggest picking up the audiobook version rather than a hardcopy.  The narrator does a great job and really helps draw you into the story.

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