Review – Cruel Beauty
  • Posted:
  • November 6, 2013

cruel beauty

Cruel Beauty is an upcoming debut novel by Rosamund Hodge. I started reading it as part of a personal challenge to read Beauty and the Beast themed retellings this year. I wanted to see what was being done in this spectrum. This is one of the best I have read.

Arcadia is ruled by the Gentle Lord; a demon who makes bargains with people in exchange for pieces of their souls. His contracts are legendary and the people live in fear of him. Mythology has sprung up around the Gentle Lord including what may happen in his demise. Nyx Triskellion is a woman with a dark future. Nyx could be the one who slays him. However, eight women have tried before her and all lost their lives. To save her people Nyx travels to his kingdom with two ideas in mind for this marriage – seduce the dark one and then kill him, ending the nine centuries long curse on the land. What Nyx doesn’t know is that not only does his kingdom hold secrets but so does his curse.

Hodge blends several timeless greek myths seamlessly with Beauty and the Beast. The result is a rich and Gothic shaping of old favourites… And she manages to do it with only two major characters. There are a few peripheral players but the lion’s share of the heavy-lifting story-wise is handled by Nyx and Ignifex, her demon husband. The relationship developed between the two is complicated in the best way, harmful and desperate and equally fierce. These are two people who would kill each other, given the chance, and frequently flirt with danger.

Cruel Beauty is an intense book, lushly constructed and beautifully formed. It’s the kind of book that is heavy on the details, particularly the world-building, which may throw some readers for a loop. I myself missed some of the details going into this and I’m afraid that this may have colored my reading later in the book. I felt a little lost as the climax was occurring. That said, it’s a book I would gladly reread. The world is that cool, the elements sumptuous, and the idea promising. I’d like to pick it up again in five years and see if it’s just me and just now.

4 out of 5 stars.

– BP

* Cruel Beauty releases January 28, 2014.

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Skye @ Skye's Scribblings

2013-11-06 16:29:15 Reply

I’ve been looking forward to this book, so I’m glad to hear it’s even better than I’d hoped! Can’t wait to get my hands on it. Great review!

Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

2013-11-07 01:13:35 Reply

I am really looking forward to reading this one. I adore that cover and Beauty and the Beast retellings. Very eager to dive in. Maybe this month or next. Great review Krys.


2013-11-07 01:15:24 Reply

Sounds exciting! I can’t wait to read this, I love fairy-tale retellings!

(You typed in the wrong release date, it’s 2014, not 2013)


    2013-11-07 02:03:42 Reply

    Gyah! My bad, not used to typing 2014 yet. Fixed!