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.
Photo and summary from Goodreads
I ended up really enjoying Cruel Beauty for a smattering of reasons:
1. I listened to the audiobook of this Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I have to say it was one of my best decisions in the last week. It’s narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden who exactly fits the tone. She has a smooth, flippant sounding voice and perfectly fit into the Gothic feel.
2. Nyx is just awesome. She is a young girl given away to fix her father’s mistakes and she is angry. So angry. Yet, still determined. I love that she admits to feeling certain ways, and also admits to the flaws of those feelings. It made her more complex to me and thus more interesting.
3. There are plenty of romantic bits, but the romance isn’t necessarily the main story. It’s more about duty and maintaining yourself even while in a bad situation. It’s about trying to figure out the truth, when your entire life you have been inundated with different information.
4. This goes slowly, yet still keeps moving. There were parts where I was pretty ready for something new to happen, but thankfully just when I started feeling that, something new DID happen. Some things got a little repetitive, but I think that is mostly because the bulk of the book was set in the house Nyx is trapped in.
5. This is a retelling of The Beauty and the Beast story and as a fan that likes Beauty and the Beast but doesn’t know much about the main story and the variations of it, I enjoyed trying to figure out in what ways Cruel Beauty would be similar and what ways it would be different.
If you are a fan of fairy tale re-tellings, dark romances, interestingly built new worlds, and complex characters, you should take a gander at Cruel Beauty.