Something quite recent!
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Title: Cruel Beauty
Release date: 28th of January 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, YA
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
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.
First things first, this is a beautiful cover, love it! Also, I’m glad that this is a standalone, I’m reading too many series already.
I’m really not fond of heaps of descriptions, be it of emotions, places or other, to me dialogue is essential and it’s through which I get to know the characters, their interrelationships and eventually form an opinion about them. And this book was quite heavy one the descriptive side, BUT I honestly didn’t mind this time and instead enjoyed the nice prose and images received. Ok… maybe I minded a little, but the book was too engaging to me to dwell too long on the cons.
I do, however, have to mention one that might be a con for some. I didn’t necessarily mind, but there was a lot of Greek mythology and not your typical all known type either. I guess the amount of it might put some people off.
The mystery and unraveling of what was really going on and what would be the climax was quite gripping and I was impatient to get to the bottom of the house and the monster living there. I have to admit it was quite clever, imaginative and somewhat different, so I was satisfied with how things unfolded. There was, however, something anticlimactic about the final ending that I can’t entirely put my finger on though. Nevertheless, I loved how the fantasy and fairy tale elements were used, this really felt like a magical book.
The main characters weren't entirely the typical YA clichés as well. I liked that Nyx wasn’t an angel, she was bitter, slightly cruel and messed up – and it worked! Our hero was as well very intriguing and completely in the gray area – again, it worked! The highlight, however, was their small verbal and sometimes light physical battles for dominance, for tricking the other, because of attraction, etc. There wasn’t nearly enough of their banter, but when it happened, it was top notch. I even liked the so-called love triangle in this, even though I knew it would turn out somewhat as it did, but it was still enjoyably sweet.
Nothing was actually on page per see, but this was in a sense quite a mature book. Maybe it’s me but there was kissing and all other stuff… And I quite liked it, because fairy tale adaptions or YA stories inspired from them are usually quite tame. This felt realistic, especially how the unhappy bride was given tips and tricks before the wedding on what goes on in the couple's private chamber and what to do, etc.
As already mentioned, I quite liked Nyx, she wasn’t an innocent wide-eyed beauty, instead she felt realistic in the situation she was forced into with most dignity still left. I also liked her fighting spirit and not necessarily hiding from Ignifex (and him not really minding) what she was planning to accomplish. I would usually be annoyed by constant self-doubt and battling with herself about which side she should be on, but in this case it felt appropriate and her inner struggle and reasoning was interesting to follow.
Ignifex was kind of a misunderstood fairy tale bad boy. I liked his small fights with Nyx and it seemed he could actually have fun and be funny. Shade I wasn’t that fond of, because he seemed to serious and extreme, but he had his über adorable moments with Nyx.
Small rant: Oh, how I couldn’t stand Nyx’s family, they came across so cold or selfish or useless or everything in one. I’m also glad she didn’t fully let them take over her.
A different and more than enjoyable fairy tale YA that isn’t too innocent or plain. Beautiful writing, not your typical characters and an interesting take on Beauty and Beast.