Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014
Pages: 342
Song I Played While Reading: Gasoline by Halsey
Rating: 3.5 stars

Since birth, Nyx has been betroth to the evil ruler of her kingdom- all because of a reckless bargain her father stuck. And since then, she has been training to kill him.
Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fat. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is to 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 toffee her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

This book made me realize something.
I'm doomed.
I don't know why it's taken me this long to realize it, but my heart has no bounds. Even if he's the nastiest guy on Earth, and has killed hundreds of people and kicks puppies and does god knows what else, if I see even the smallest sliver of kindness, or even the hope that I can help him realize his mistakes, I'll take it. I'll snatch that little piece of hope and I'll cuddle it and make it laugh and make it grow and grow. Maybe I'm only saying this because I don't feel the hatred that most characters do towards "the evil lord". I've never been in a similar situation, where I'm forced to be with someone that I dislike 24/7, or have heard awful things about so I judge him immensely. But I always seem to see the good in people, so maybe that's why I always pity the evil prick. Pity and end up loving them with a fiery passion.
Ignifex was no different. The second he was in pain, getting the taste of his own medicine, I wanted it to stop. "He doesn't deserve that kind of pain, who cares what he's done, don't treat him like this! Make him see that there's good people in the world!!" It's a problem, I know, but luckily, it hasn't bitten me in the ass yet. *knocks on wood*
Nyx and Ignifex were an absolute riot together. 50% of the time she was threatening/trying to kill him, and the other 50% of the time was spent her mouthing off to him, and him back. They would just be going about there day, maybe eating breakfast, and he would walk over to her and she would jump up and try to stab him with a fork. He would just laugh it off and say how it turned him on that she was ruthless in her quest, and she would snap some witty retort at him and flounce off, already planning her next move. And the best part was that it was absolutely random, so I would be caught off guard and almost start crying from laughing so hard.

"I'm the evil demon lord. I know it's not a compliment, but I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart." He poked my forehead. "If you don't sit up soon, I'll use you for a pillow again."

See? How can someone not love that??
Not only was she witty and courages, but Nyx was dark. She hated the world and hated her family and she hated the position she was in. She was brutally honest and had no repents on who she was; she accepted it, and acknowledged that at least when she died, she'd be taking Ignifex down with her, ensuring her town would be safe. I love that kind of vicious acceptance, where the character has gotten shit on by the world, so they shit on it right back. It's breath of fresh air from the usual YA character who strives to be good all the time, who is fearful and embarrassed by her dark side.
The world was based on a complicated mix of mythology and elemental magic, something that you really needed to focus on to understand. Though I got greatly confused at the end (the reason why I docked it down to 3.5 instead of 4 stars) I gotta give credit to Hodge; she's got an imagination I would kill for.
Her writing was beautiful and flowed incredibly, making this story a dark and twisted take on Beauty and the Beast. 

"With a sigh, Aunt Telomache unfolded my fist and plucked out the crumbled Tom-a-Lone.
"Still they cling to their superstitions," she muttered, and flung it into the fireplace. "You would think Romana-Graecia conquered them last week, and not twelve hundred years ago."
And from the way Aunt Telomache talked, you would think she was descended in a straight line from Prince Claudius, when in fact she and Mother came from a family that was only three generations removed from being peasants. But there was no use pointing that out to her."

"Astraia didn't follow me, which was lucky. If I'd seen her face again, I would have shattered. Instead, I floated numbly down the stairs. I knew that soon I would realize what I had done, that the acid of my self-loathing would eat through my walls and burn me down to the bone. But for now, I was wrapped in cotton wool, and when I reached the bottom of the stairs I stepped out onto the floor and curtsied without even trembling."

"He advanced on me like a cat stalking a bird. "You want me to worry more about my own demise?"
I took another step back and smacked into one of the pillars. With nowhere to run- and knowing that running wouldn't save me- all I could do was stare him down.
"Oh no,  I could possible bother you. Do go ahead and rest in comfortable ignorance."
"The better to kill me in my sleep?
"It would be rude to wake you first."

"And I was his delight and he was mine."

"You deserve all that and more. It made me happy to see you suffer. I would do it all over again if I could." I realized I was shaking as the words tumbled out of me. "I would do it again and again. Every night I would torment you and laugh. Do you understand? You are never safe with me." I drew a shuddering breath, trying to will away the sting of tears.
He opened his eyes and stared up at me as if I were the door out of Arcadia and back to the true sky. "That's what makes you my favorite." He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. "Every wicked bit of you."


  1. Oh, this one has such a pretty cover!

    I also can't help but fall for the bad guys, unfortunately.

    Definitely going to need to pick this up. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Shaunna @ Books Over Bros x

    1. The cover is GORGEOUS!! I think I've finally come to terms with the loving the bad guys. Glad you enjoyed my review :)