May 16, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I couldn't be kind to him after what he'd done, couldn't be cruel after what I had done
-from Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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I love re-told classics and fractured fairy tales, so this rendition of Beauty and the Beast really excited me to read! Spinning the classic fairy tale with heavy mythology, Rosamund Hodge's Cruel beauty follows the fate of Nyx, a girl who was sold by her father to marry the evil Ignifex. Her entire life she has been trained on how she might be able to seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle and break a curse on her people. She is their only hope. But as Nyx begins uncovering the secrets of the castle and becomes more drawn to Ignifex, she begins to see that things are not always as they seem. Nothing is simply black or white, good or evil, love or hate and that only makes it more difficult for Nyx to find her way out.

I have very mixed feelings about Cruel Beauty and I think most of them are because it is so heavy with mythology. While I have nothing against mythology, I'm just not very into it or well-versed in it, so I think that took a lot away from my experience reading. However, I strongly feel that if you are a huge mythology fan, you will adore this book! In fact, you will probably get so much more out of it and recognize much more symbolism and literary allusion than I noticed. Overall, the story is great, but there was just too much time spent explaining mythology for my taste.

While I didn't love the mythology element as much as I was probably supposed to, I was able to appreciate that this is a grown up fairy tale and a very unique take on a popular story. Where most fairy tales dwell on good versus evil, Cruel Beauty highlighted that we are all both good and evil. Even Ignifex, who is supposed to be the embodiment of evil has many redeeming qualities about him and shows this through his actions. I really enjoy when books break the myth that things are all good or all bad; life is full of grey-area and this book did a great job of exploring that. Nyx was not a typical fairy tale heroine; she acknowledged the poison in her heart and yet she still let goodness lead her on her journey.

Bottom Line: A very unique re-telling of Beauty and the Beast intertwined with a lot of mythology. If you aren't a huge mythology fan, you might find some of the content a little taxing, but it's still very interesting and adds to the story. I highly recommend to anyone who loves re-told classics! 4/5 Stars

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