Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Fantasy YA
First Published: 2014
Page Count: 342
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 of the Cruel Beauty Universe
A Beauty and the Beast retelling that can be confusing at times but manages to overcome this with the originality of the plot.
*Use of Mythology *Heroine’s Mission *Names
“Don’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.” Nyx is set to marry a man she has been training to kill her entire life. She has never met her future husband, Ignifex, the immortal ruler of demons who cursed her people nine hundred years ago. However, once she is imprisoned in his magical castle, she can’t help but find herself drawn to him. Will Nyx be able to follow through on her mission to save her people or will her unexpected love for him destroy her plans?
This had been on my radar for a while and it turned out to be a completely different story then what I had imagined it would be. Like A Court of Thorns and Roses, the Beauty and the Beast element to the story is very subtle. Here and there the author scatters allusions to the familiar fairytale, but when I closed the book I took away a completely different impression of the story. The plot feels totally unique and different and I love that about this book. I had no idea how the story would come to an end or if there would even be a happy ending; that is how different the story is. Just because you know the original Beauty and the Beast does not mean you will be able predict the outcome of this story after reading a few pages.
There were parts in this book I did struggle with, however. One thing that sets this book apart from other retellings is its meshing of mythology into the plot. I had a love hate relationship with this. I love mythology so I loved reading about it in the book, but the setting felt medieval or that it was taking place in a different universe. Having mythology mixed in with the setting didn’t fit for me. Either the story should’ve taken place in Greece or ancient Rome or the author should have made more of her own mythology. Nyx’s mission was also a point of contention for me because it was so darn confusing. Sure, she’s supposed to kill her husband, but there seemed to be one hundred and one ways to go about it, plus all these rules and magical side quests. It was hard to keep up; I was surprised Nyx could keep it all straight without a few post-it notes for reference. And while we’re on the subject of Nyx, I couldn’t stand her name or any character’s name for that matter. I’m not asking the characters to be named Mary Jane and Bobby Thomas, and I know they are meant to fit with the fanciful world, but I hate when names are just too out there.
While I think A Court of Thorns and Roses is a more satisfying read in the world of Beauty and the Beast retellings, this is not a bad book to pick up either. It’s got a few more negatives than the other book I mentioned, but not enough to rule it out of the running. I don’t know if I’ll read any other books in the Cruel Beauty Universe since this is the only retelling whose book jacket description really interested me, but for a first book in the series it was very good.