CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamunde Hodge – A Dual Review

Rosamund Hodge
352 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Source: Publisher
Rating: LOVED


Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all 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 to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Greek Mythology meets Beauty & the Beast in this debut that’s almost reminiscent of GRACELING. Rosamund Hodge’s CRUEL BEAUTY is a novel that we absolutely adored here at IceyBooks, and Asma and I have gotten together to give you a deeper scoop with a dual review!

Hafsah: I want to start off by saying I’ve always been a fan of Beauty & the Beast, mainly because I love the whole hate-to-love relationships. The angst, the tension, the whole suspense —I love it. So of course, when I saw a retelling (I love retellings) featuring Beauty & the Beast (which I love even more than retellings), I was beyond excited.

Asma: And being the type of person who judges a book by its cover, I knew I had to read it. I love how the rose unravels into the staircase and how the girl’s dress portrays an important scene—her wedding!—from the book. Rosamund Hodge was blessed with an amazing cover, that’s for sure!

Hafsah: Oh, yes, that cover is drool-worthy. I’m always on the lookout for books that are… dark. Dark with that spark of hope in the form on a strong heroine, and CRUEL BEAUTY delivers. The story was dark, seductive, and just beautiful. Not to mention the spark of genius in which Rosamund Hodge used Hermetic sigils and created a world that was so full of life, despite its crumbling future.

Asma: The characters were pure awesomeness. And the first time we met Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, I couldn’t help but fall for him with his twisted sense of humor (I’m surprised it took Nyx so long to fall for him).

Hafsah: Yes! I was rooting for Ignifex from the start. And Nyx, oh Nyx. I hated her in the beginning. She was full of so much anger and hatred, I wanted to slap her more often than not. But she was smart and strong. But her sister, Astraia? Let’s just say: always be wary of the sweet sister.

Asma: MWAHAHAHA. Not that I’m exactly sweet.

Hafsah– Mmhmm.

Asma– Wait, so I am sweet?

Hafsah– Shut up.

Asma– You have no sense of humor. Anyway, back to the book.

Hafsah– By the time I finished CRUEL BEAUTY—it’s a very quick read, by the way—I told everyone it was good, that I really liked it. But the next day, I realized, I was talking about it too much, thinking about it too much, and I knew I LOVED it. Not liked, loved. It’s just a book that sticks to you. The characters, the tale, everything.

Asma– True. The beginning cut straight to the point and there were simply no dragging parts. Which is a pretty awesome feat for a debut author.

Hafsah– Cutting straight to the point may seem like rushing the plot, but I’ll tell you there was no rush, there was no confusion. It was well-written from start to finish. Although I will remove a few points due to the fact that I knew who Shade was, though Nyx did not.

Asma– As did I. But that was probably because you hinted at it.

Hafsah– Maybe. Maybe we were meant to figure it out. I guess we’ll never know. Speaking of never knowing, CRUEL BEAUTY is a standalone. This makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Asma– Speaking of emotions, throughout the book, Rosamund Hodge played with my feelings making me sad, mad, and at the same time happy. It was mind-boggling. Nyx’s decision: save her people, or save the one man she loves was heartbreaking, not to mention utterly tense.

Hafsah– Rosamund Hodge is a master at words, that’s for sure. I love how everything played out in the end, but I was just as tense as you were! Favorite scene?

Asma– Mine was probably every scene Ignifex was in.

Hafsah– Typical. My favorite had to be the apple-stacking scene. That was cute and heartfelt, and… I loved it.

All in all, CRUEL BEAUTY is a must read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, fairytales, Greek mythology, or all three, then this book is perfect for you.

Asma– And just think, if you don’t like it, at least it will look gorgeous on your shelves ;)

About the Author:

I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. My debut novel, CRUEL BEAUTY (a YA fairytale fantasy, where Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast), is due out from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2014.

Add CRUEL BEAUTY to Goodreads
Find Rosamund on her Twitter | Website



Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Mary @ BookSwarm

    January 27, 2014

    Just finished this one and I have to agree — why did it take Nyx so long to fall for the Gentle Lord? He’s awesome. He’s snarky. He’s not a bad guy (per se).

  2. Reply

    Jessica L. Brooks

    January 27, 2014

    Um… Why didn’t you guys do this SOONER????? I loved the dual review! :)

    Can’t wait to read this. Thanks for doing such a fun post! :D

  3. Reply

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

    January 28, 2014

    So, so glad to hear you two loved this one! I’ve been curious about it and while it sounds exactly like something I would like, I wasn’t too sure if it would meet my expectations.

    But those books that grow on you with time are the absolute best. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Cruel Beauty!

    Brenna from Esther’s Ever After

  4. Reply


    January 28, 2014

    I LOVED this one too! So glad you two enjoyed it, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous!