The first review for the Debut Author Challenge... Yay! Ok I´ll calm down. Is just that I´m so happy to be finally participating this year, and I get to present you the first novel ever written by Rosamund Hodge due to be released January 28th in the US.
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.
Don´t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back. It was even more horrible for us because we regularly saw the victims of demon attacks, screaming or mute with madness.
All the book is told by Nyx perspective our main female protagonist, that I didn´t like much since the beginning. So the story plot goes like this:
Nyx has a twin sister called Astraia and they live with their aunt and father who is a master of Hermetic arts, called like that in honor to the god Hermes who taught them how to use it.
Just four interlocking sigils, those abstract designs whose angles and curves invoke the power of the four elements[...] I could feel the soft pulsing buzz of the working´s four elemental hearts as they invoked earth, air, fire, and water. [...] Everything in the physical world arises from the dance of the four elements, their mating and division. This principle is one of t he first Hermetic teachings.
Nyx’s father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord (Ignifex) and to seal the deal he had to give one of her daughters to marry him in payment, but since Astraia resembles more to her mother, her father picks Nyx to be the one to be handed to the Gentle Lord as a wife, so he trains her since young age in Hermetic arts so they can destroy the Gentle Lord´s castle.
"A virgin knife in a virgin´s hand
Can kill the beast that rules the land"
As you can imagine reading Nyx point of view wasn´t easy because she was constantly blaming her father for her fate and judging her sister for being the one that was saved. So there´s a lot of bitterness and resentment. Now my point is, she goes on and on shutting her feelings and then complains because no one understands her, how come if she never tells anyone?, but is part of the history I guess.
Ignifex on the other hand is presented with an irresistible human form and only cat like eyes to know he´s a demon (big ugly monster as you can see) and he´s sarcastic and witty and torn and selfish. So Nyx is attracted to him even when she won´t admit it. So a lot of tension in the book, especially when she meets her only ally in the house of Ignifex, Shade. A shadow in the day and an ethereal copy of Ignifex in the night with the only difference of him having clear blue eyes.
I twitched and went still, but he made no further move. Then he whispered-so softly I barely heard it- "Please stay."
All I have to say from the book is that in some parts is predictable, thought the protagonist doesn´t see it. And other parts are an amazing riddle. Like the ending, that I really didn´t expect it to be that way. So that´s the awesome part of it and it keeps you going until the last page (I finish it in about a day). The book in general is really well written.
I don´t want to go too long explaining the story because is a part of the readers pleasure to discover, so all I can say is that if you´re fans of fairy tales and mythology this is your book.
There´s a lot of mythology and prophecies rhymes and songs and I really enjoyed that, since I´m a fan of that, and I liked the way the author explained the myths, she knows the exact moment when she should put them and leave you with intrigue.
My personal thought about this book is that in some point I think the author tries to explore the true human nature, how as human beens we are never actually good or bad, we are sort of in between, being selfish or proud, and we need to deal with that and accept us for who we are, and maybe if we are lucky enough we will find someone that see all the good and wicked parts of us and loves us anyway.
Is so pretty, congrats to the designers because is perfect for what you see in the story. If this book ever gets translated I wouldn´t want them to change the cover. And the tittle also goes perfectly with the story.
Final Score: 3.5 /5 I enjoyed the reading.