Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.
My first debut of the year! I don’t know if it’ll stand the test of time to end up on my Top Debuts of 2014 or whatever, but it was certainly enjoyable while I read it.
Before I talk about the book itself, I think you need to know the context of when I was reading it. I’m not the type of person who really reads a book in one setting. I can read a book in one day if it’s not too long and I’m able to devote enough time to it, but there are usually some breaks in there somewhere. The day I started reading this, though, was a weird day. I had already finished reading the much-different Being Sloane Jacobs that afternoon, and didn’t start this book until late afternoon at least. I wasn’t feeling well, so I really should have just put this down and go to bed early, but instead I ended up reading this book until roughly 3 in the morning. When I would have to get up at 8:30 for class. This seems like great praise for the book – I mean, if I was willing to stay up until three in the freaking morning, then I must have really been into it, right? Well, I actually wasn’t that much. I was mostly reading to distract myself from not feeling great, and the more I read, the closer I got to the end, and the closer to the end I got, the more I thought “well, might as well stay up and finish it.” Not a whole lot of logic went into this thinking. I mean, I did enjoy it, don’t get me wrong – I would never stay up late reading a book if I hated it, I love my sleep, but it wasn’t really related to my enjoyment of the book much. Also, the ending seemed pretty rushed because I was getting pretty tired at the point, which might have affected my thoughts about the ending (although my roommate read this after me, and she agreed that the ending was rushed, without staying up until 3 to finish it, so it might not just be me).
So, anyway, that’s a long bit of context for the rest of this review. If you read it all, then good for you!
Anyway, things started off quite well. I had read a few number of reviews that warned me that the book started off pretty slowly and there was a lot coming at you at once, and while I definitely saw that, it didn’t seem to be a huge problem for me. I was interested to see what was going to happen, so I happily kept going even if something confused me slightly.
I think I like the main character. She’s not a very happy person, nor is she really a good person, especially when it comes to her relationship with her sister, but I always liked her for the most part, and when I didn’t like her, I understand her. Even when I was sadly shaking my head at the way she treated her sister, it always made sense for her character and her past and such. It was nice seeing a not-so-nice protagonist who came off as understandable rather than whiny.
I’ve seen some raving for the romance in this book, and while I did like their moments together, I don’t know if I was ever cheering them on. They just… were, if that makes any sense. I liked reading about them together, and there were times I wanted scenes with them, but I was never cheering them on. Also, there was a weird love triangle thing kind of (I don’t know, it’s hard to understand who the second love interest really is, that’s why I hesitate to call it a typical love triangle) – I hadn’t heard anything about this prior to reading, or if I did, then I forgot about it, so it kind of came out of left field for me and left me a little confused.
The ending is where I ha the most issue. Like I said, I had been reading for a while at that point and was kind of just ready to go to bed, but wanted to finish it first since I had come so far, so that probably contributed to my feelings of it being rushed. It just seemed like there was so much coming at you all at once, and I didn’t always understand, and I didn’t always care. Looking back a few weeks later, I don’t remember much about how it ended, which seems like a bit of a bad thing. I should at least remember the ending, right? Well, I remember the beginning fairly well, but I’m having trouble coming up with something from the end other than “a lot happened and it was kind of confusing.”
As I write this review, I can’t help but wonder if I should put this down to a 3.5 star book than 4 stars, but I’ll stick with my original rating for now since that’s what I felt it deserved when I finished it. Even if this isn’t the type of book to stick around in my head a long time, I did enjoy it while I read it, and that’s a big point in its favour. I’ll definitely be checking out future books in this universe or others from Rosamund Hodge.