Book Rant: Cruel Beauty



GENRE: Fairytale retelling, YA

SERIES: Stand-alone

Hello! Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a retelling primarily of Beauty and the Beast but also has elements of Rumpelstiltskin, Blue Beard and Greek/Roman/Pagan mythology plus a parallel universe of sorts and magic. Confused yet? That’s a main theme of this novel. Nyx is 17 and since her birth she has been betrothed to marry the immortal demon-lord who rules over her world. Her father bargained her life while saving her twin sisters and Nyx now must settle her father’s debt. But she has been trained her whole life how to kill the beast and she finds herself reluctantly forced into the role of the world’s best hope. What she didn’t count on was for her new husband being so charming. The characters of this novel are passable; I’m not going to say I loved any of them. Nyx has a lot of really good moments as does Ignifex (demon-lord) but there is very little continuity in the plot and there are way too many ideas presented and they don’t quite fit together all the time and none of them are given enough attention to have them make sense. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this book, which is a shame because it’s beautiful and had good potential. Spoilers past here!







What was most frustrating in this book had to be the lack of continuity. At first if we guess Ignifex’s real name, Nyx goes free. Then it sounds like if we guess his name he goes free as well. As soon as she guessed Shade’s name I thought, oh well, there you go because Shade and Ignifex  are quite obviously the same person! In a sense anyway. On page 220 after Shade tries to kill her, essentially, and she has this vision of the sparrow she wakes up to see Ignifex and she thinks “I know his name.”  And then it’s like she forgets. I thought she might be using this knowledge to get something, like a bargaining chip. But that never happens and she never explain why she is just sitting on this information and being all “let’s go on a treasure hunt for your name!” The way it was set up at this point I think if she guesses Ignifex is free from the Kindly ones, based on what Ignifex has told us. Nyx says she loves him and this would remove him from being the demon-lord without killing him, there is no logical reason for her not to tell him his name! We get to the end of the book, which I’ll address in more detail in a minute, and she finally says his name! All of months later.  And the Kindly Ones tell her that won’t do anything. Excuse me? For over half this book you have made it seem like that is the way to free him.

There is way too much happening in this world. The Hermetic magic, the house magic, Blue Beard doors, Rumplistizkin name guessing, Greek AND Roman AND Pagan mythology that seems hastily researched at best, the Kindly Ones that I’m not even sure what they are supposed to be, demons a sort of parallel world to our own or maybe it was part of our world that got separated (like Atlantis) or maybe it’s supposed to be our world. I’m not sure. It’s way too much and nothing gets as much time as it needs to be explained. There are a lot of things we are just supposed to accept even though there’s no explanation or reasoning behind it. Like the Hermaetic marks. What the hell is her drawing the around this house supposed to do? They collapse it. Ok then, how do these random symbols do that? What the hell are these “hearts”? And things just get dropped off:  the house changing, it’s talked about in one chapter then never mentioned again.   It’s just incredibly frustrating and very hard to follow.

The ending was one giant, “WHAT?!” from the time Nyx leaves her sister things just stop making sense. She sets demons on Ignifex using this ring (that was randomly introduced to us with no foreshadowing or prior meaning)  and then what? We jump to the other parallel universe where the sky is blue again? The world is somehow freed and just no one remembers anything including Nyx but then she seems to because she goes looking for Ignifex? Is she experiencing memories that have been altered by removing Ignifex? Are there no more demons? We then somehow end up back with the Kindly Ones and Nyx’s love and willingness to sacrifice her human life to stay with him frees Ignifex who is also the ancient Prince. And they both wake up beside each other. Nyx is saying she has all these memories of being with Ignifex but she knows that she’s never actually done anything more than holding hand with a man so it was that all a dream…? I was just really frustrated by the end of this book. T felt really rushed. I remember when she left her sister looking at the number of pages left and thinking that it couldn’t possibly wrap up in that short amount of space. The beginning I found really slow and it took me awhile to get into it, the middle I enjoyed apart from the aforementioned things, but the characters did a lot to help move it along. My favourite part had to be when Nyx abandoned Ignifex in the dark and then came back for him. It was good.

That is all for this book! If you’ve read it let me know what you thought! Bye!



  1. I have to admit that my first thought after reading this is “wow, that author desperately needed a developmental editor.”

    The book sounds like an ill-thought out jumble of ideas and an allround nightmare! I don’t think I’ll be picking it up any time soon.

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