This is the kind of book that could have gone very badly wrong. The main characters could have become easy to hate if not written just right. That is, after all, the nature of a Beauty and the Beast Story. Its been done time and time again and is very easy to spoil. Fortunately…
Plot- 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.
The Characters- Beauty and the Beast is a story often associate with Stockholm syndrome. As much as plenty of versions avoid this trap, just as many fall into it. I was worried about the main characters and their chemistry. But I adored them. Nyx was tough as nails, with bite to her words. I found her funny at points, determined and altogether likable. More surprising to me was Ignifex, who I was afraid I’d like less. But not only did I adore him but he was legitimately seductive. And I don’t think that of a lot of book love interests. Their chemistry and dynamic was addicting. The other characters surrounding these two were as varied and interesting, but it was the leads that made the book come to life.
The Good Points- The characters are nothing without well-wrought surrounding elements. And there are many of those. First off, the castle of Ignifex is gorgeous and full of mystery. The plot was an engaging twist on the classic fairy tale. The dialogue and prose were equally engaging and often times lovely. The world, for the most part, was well developed. I enjoyed the integration of elements from Greek mythology even though they were sometimes confused. And I just LOVED the castle. Did I mention that?
The Bad Points- Over all, there’s not much to criticize. The ending was a bit odd to me, not entirely built up by the plot and some of the world elements that came into play were not fully expanded on. It’s hard to talk in detail about it, given that it would be spoiling things. It wasn’t a bad ending. Just a bit sudden and strange, and not enough to sour the experience of reading the rest of the book.
Beauty and the Beast retellings are hard to pull off. But this one hit all the right notes and developed its world, plot and characters with careful grace. I understand why some people might not like it but for me it was just a delicious read. Highly recommended.
Final Rating- 4.5/5 Stars