A review by mel_reviews_in_a_pinch
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Fairy tale retellings have become extremely popular. When they’re done right, they provide some of the highest quality reading out there. When done wrong, they’re usually a hot mess which can still be entertaining (sometimes). I personally love them. As far as Disney goes, Beauty & the Beast was one of my favorites. I liked that Belle enjoyed reading. She made me feel like I wasn’t a weirdo as a kid. Plus there are very few people immune to the idea of changing the bad boy. I’d like to think I’m one of them, but alas I’m really not.

In case it somehow hasn’t been made clear yet, Cruel Beauty is a Beauty & the Beast retelling. Since that’s one of my favorite fairy tales, I have ridiculously high expectations of anyone trying to write something with it as the source material. Rosamund Hodge has now become one of my favorite authors.

The intricacies of the world created in Cruel Beauty is staggering. The addition of demons to the story was a twist that enjoyed, since I’m a fan of the supernatural. Nothing was exactly as it seemed in this world, which was a cool way to comment on how we’re perceived in life versus how we are in private. There were so many quotes that made me stop and take a deep breath because that’s how I felt, but never acknowledged (or realized).

“I had been waiting, all my life, for someone undeceived to love me.”

“You fought and fought to keep all the cruelty locked up in your head, and for what? None of them ever loved you, because none of them ever knew you”
The way that the back and forth “love triangle” was written between Ignifex, Nyx and Shade was not great. I understand now and am less irritated because it makes sense to me, but it made Nyx come across wrong. I don’t want to say shallow because that seems like the wrong descriptor, but for a while it really seemed like she didn’t know how to listen to her own heart. It wasn’t even a matter of brain vs. heart. She really did come across as having no clue, which bothered me. Repressed feelings? I can get behind that. Struggling to communicate feelings? I can get behind that too. Not having a freaking clue? I immediately think you’re a moron (everyone knows, even when they don’t want to admit it).

I went back and forth with how I felt about Nyx, until she started to accept all parts of herself. Yes, she was cruel. Yes, she could be sweet. We all have light and dark to our personalities and I loved seeing her accept that about herself and stop feeling ashamed. Shade was eh. I thought there was something off about him to be honest. Ignifex was amazing. He’s the jerk that knows he’s a jerk and doesn’t apologize for it. Turns out there’s a reason (which only made me love him more), but he easily held my attention throughout Cruel Beauty.

Ultimately, I loved reading Cruel Beauty. I can’t wait to read more by Rosamund Hodge (I’ve already checked out Crimson Bound from the library – no, it’s not part of the same series). If you like paranormal, fantasy or fairy tale retellings then I would definitely recommend Cruel Beauty.

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