Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

If you’re excited about the upcoming Disney film Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, don’t miss Cruel Beauty.

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in this dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Perfect for fans of bestselling An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that 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 what 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.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did! Since reading A Court of Thorns and Roses last month I had pretty much set aside my entire TBR pile to read some fairy-tale re-tellings. Cruel Beauty, like ACOTAR (which Cruel Beauty pales in comparison with ACOTAR, just so we are clear), is a Beauty and the Beast re-crafting that was excellent and original in it’s own way. There were times when I was on the fence with this one, but then when the end came I saw everything come together and it was beautiful.


Igifex and Nyx fan art, by artist PhantomRin, from
  • The book is beautifully written and while it’s not a twisting tale of intrigue and suspense it did keep me entertained enough that I kept reading until the end. It’s smooth with well written dialog and scenes that are descriptive and rich.

‘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 up 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.’

  • The main character was likeable enough. My grandma would have said that Nyx is full of “piss and vinegar”, and not in a way that I thought was over the top or annoyingly stubborn. She does waver back and forth in her love triangle a little bit but I think that is acceptable for a girl who has never had the attention of one man before let alone two at the same time.
  • While it was a rewrite of Beauty and the Beast I feel like the storyline was original in it’s own way, especially the wonderful ending, which completely sealed my opinion about the book. This goes hand in hand with the amazing world building that the author has done with this story. From a reworking of the pantheon of Greek gods into something else to the castle that has hundreds of rooms and changes it shape at will, she put a lot of thought into the weaving of this tale.


  • There were some confusing elements about the intricate back story of the fairy tale that I thought added to much to the story. Some of it had me going back to re-read a couple parts because I thought that I was going to miss something in the story, which sometimes has me giving up on a book.
  • The main male Character, Ignifex, is rather dull for being a demon lord. WTF dude sneaking up on me and whispering in my ear is supposed to make me shiver in my boots? I think that perhaps the author left out all those steamy breathless scenes for a reason….but that is the stuff that make me want to lust after you Ignifex. Annnnd I know that you are inexperienced with men Nyx, and I know that he is your husband and there are no other people around for you to compare it to but damn girl I pity you because he is likely a terrible lover.
  • I always like my books with a little more steamy romance than what is presented here. This book has Nyx more focused on the tasks at hand than about describing her constant steamy daydreams, which some people like. The sex is implied rather than described: This isn’t a deal breaker for me, I just like my love scenes to leave me a little breathless.
  • Some people can’t stomach the “dreaded love triangle”, and while romance is not the main focus of the book, the love triangle is still there and kind of a major part of the story in the end (that’s all I can so with no spoilers attached.) There is a nice twist at the end that for me anyways was a little predictable but it also made the presence of the love triangle a little easier to swallow.

I feel like that was more negative things than positive things, which doesn’t seem right because I did enjoy this book. Perhaps I’m just in a slump, ruined by the majesty of Sarah J Maas’ writing for now.

School Library Group has this book listed as suitable for Grade 9 and up and I would agree with that. There are some adult themes in the book but the violence and sexual content is kept at a minimum.

This was a satisfying enough stand alone novel. While females may favor the tale perhaps the lack of romance in the story could draw in other readers that don’t care for that. I think if you enjoyed the dreamy imagination used in the Night Circus by Erin Morganstern or the fantasy and fairy tale retelling like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, than you would enjoy this book too.

You can check this book out here:

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Sara is a book hobbit that lives in a house of all boys, located in the promised land. Books stack the walls to the ceiling in some places, and she just keeps adding more. She was raised on top of a mountain that is locked in the dead of winter ten months of the year. She wears a size eleven shoe and enjoys her chicken cooked on the BBQ grill. In addition to reading she enjoys pinning crafts on Pinterest that she will never make and watching movies about people with sad lives or documentaries about serial killers.

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