Goodreads rating: 3.78
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.
This is probably one of my favorite fairy tale retellings ever! I loved the similarities to the original and the adaptations that were made that help make it it's own story. There is just so much to love about this book so please bear with the length of the review. To make it easy, I broke it up into pros and cons.
I really like how Nyx is resentful of her sister. That may seem strange but to me it made the character more real and relatable. I mean, who wouldn't be a little resentful of their sister and family who was pretty much sending them away to pretty much die... Yeah... I'd be kinda resentful too. This was almost a welcome change for me to see a character who has these real feelings instead of playing the normal "I am happy to die for my people and family" bit. She has faults and isn't completely noble and honorable. She gets angry and cruel and has hatred in her heart. This sounds like she would be an awful human being but she speaks the truth. Everyone has anger in them.
I also love how snarky Ignifex is! My favorite kind of dude ;) Even while his wife is trying to kill him, he keeps a playful air around him that is just plain humorous at times.
On a quick side note... I also love the mythology (mostly Greek) that gets brought up in the book :) Love me them gods and goddesses.
On to the romancey part of the book! Where to start with this?? Well this section is in the "pros" so you (hopefully) know by now that this is good. This isn't your typical "love at first sight" story... and frankly it wouldn't be a good retelling of Beauty and the Beast if it were... Even if it weren't a retelling, I like how they started off hating each other; Nyx literally is trying to kill her husband. Then begins a little love triangle ;) This offered more scandal as well as some mystery of not knowing who to trust and flip flopping between Team Ignifex and Team Shade.
After some very interesting events (which I will not spoil), Nyx goes toward her "true love" and it is just amazing. They fall in love because he accepts her for who she is, hatred and cruelty and all, and wants nothing in return. Love without a price :') So precious!
There were a few tid-bits that I related back to the original (mostly the Disney version since that will always be in the forefront of my mind with any fairy tale). Aside from the prince under a curse with the heroine trapped in his home scenario, but there are other details. For example, Nyx finds a mirror in the house that allows her to see her family, similar to the mirror the Beast gives Belle to see her father. A rose is also the symbol of the curse in both tellings (or more-so the power the Gentle Lord has in the book). The "beast" in both version also releases the heroine to go see a loved one (her father in the Disney version).
There were plenty of amazing happenings that occurred that helped make the story all it's own. To sum up all this, the whole idea of the Sundering was very interesting and lead to a whole mess of mystery and deception. Some parts confused me in a kind of Inception way (read the book and you will know what I mean. Like I said, I don't do spoilers) but once I paused and wrapped my mind around the concept, it was actually a pretty cool twist! Everything from the Kindly Ones and magic and curses and bargains and murderous plots made this book nothing short of awesome!
Last but not least... the ending.... cute as a baby bunny! A real "love conquers all" kind of thing that I usually gag at but this ending made me actually really happy :)
There was quite a lengthy introduction into the world and the story that I don't think was fully necessary... I still don't remember a lot of what was talked about in the beginning and wasn't sure at the time that all the background knowledge was necessary but it did make me contemplate not liking the book....
Yes... 1 con and that's it! Overall, great book that I highly recommend to all fairy tale fans (or big Beauty and the Beast fans like myself).
The Court's Decision: