[January 28, 2014]
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
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.
I know I'm partial to Beauty and the Beast retellings and to Persephone retellings (because I think this is a decent comparison to a Persephone retelling moreso than Graceling), but oh my God guys. Oh. My. God. Even knowing the Beauty and the Beast/Persephone stories as well as I do, I still wasn't totally sure what to expect since there were enough twists to really freshen the story.
There's also a bit of a love triangle, but both guys might be truly horrible or decent guys, but you really can't tell. I think that was my favorite thing about this book. Nyx, Ignifex, this other love interest? They're all super morally ambiguous. There is no clear line that says this character is good and this character is bad when it comes to them. It was a really fascinating look at characters and people and it really made me think about how we see right and wrong and the decisions people make. Just thinking about it makes me want to reread the book right now.
Seriously though, Nyx is an incredible character. She makes genuinely bad decisions with good reasons and she makes good decisions with not so great reasons and she's stubborn and selfish and she makes no apologies for it. She's also incredibly big hearted and loving and strong. I loved everything about this poor girl.
And the story? It was such a creepy take on the Beauty and the Beast castle and world and I would read a whole nother book just on the world and how it came to be. I would read all the books set in this world forever. And it was such a unique, wonderful twist on this classic, much beloved fairy tale. I've never seen anything like it and I'm kind of heartbroken that I probably never will again. This is easily one of those books where I wish I could forget I read it once and read it again for the first time.
And the writing is SO ADDICTING. I read this way early when I really shouldn't have been reading and I had such a hard time putting it down. It was nearly impossible. And she weaved in all these incredible little things that just made the story so enthralling. Ugh. Just ugh. So ugh.
This book is probably now one of my all time favorites. Like, Pride and Prejudice, Hourglass style favorite. I've already recommended it several times...before it released. Go read it. Immediately. This isn't a question, this isn't a "if you like..." No. This is a go read it. Don't do anything else with your life until you've read this book. Seriously.
(Unless you're like Lanna. But her review will explain soon.)