Cruel Beauty Universe, Book 1
Description (taken from Rosamund Hodge's website):
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.
Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, 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. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?
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.
Nyx despises the people around her because they all have what she doesn't: a future full of life. She has been promised to the Gentle Lord, the ruler of demons, by her father who struck a foolish deal with him. As she is trained in the arts of seduction and the Hermetic teachings to destroy the demon ruler, she discovers that all she wants is a normal life and a future. But because she can have neither, she grows up despising everyone she should love. And with this warped view of her people, she somehow is able to relate to the Gentle Lord.
After Nyx's mock wedding to the Gentle Lord (she married a rock in his place), she is transported to the castle. While her father never shows her any love or appreciation, she finds she is able to relax a little in the castle, until Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, shows up. Somehow he is nothing she ever expected. Eccentric, honest, and playful are not the attributes to be associated with someone so evil. There is another prisoner in the household, a shadow named Shade who Nyx is able to befriend. He obeys Ignifex, but we all know he has ulterior motives. As Nyx has someone else pulling her strings, she finds out so does Ignifex, and it gives her a chance to bond with him. But will this bond be big enough to forget that the fate of her people rest on her destroying the very man she is falling in love with?
I guess I am always doomed to not enjoy fairy tale retellings. This book started out super slow for me as it explained the background of the world. They're people who worship the Greek gods, so we get a lot of mythology in here mixed with the Beauty and the Beast retelling. But I don't feel like they did a good job of explaining the magic: the Hermetic teachings or all the quirky things that tend to happen in this world. It's kind of like someone trying to spoon-feed you the process of destroying the evil one, but it doesn't taste good and it makes no sense. And once she did break the curse, what happens next happens quickly and messily. And I was super annoyed with Nyx's character, I don't like characters who try to make you feel bad for them because something bad happened to them (I'd rather see characters who thrive even through the badness).
Being one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, this one definitely fell short. I hope there are other readers out there who like it and don't have the same opinions as myself.
Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a copy.