I read this when it first came out, but I kept putting off reviewing it because I didn’t want to taint it. (Doesn’t that spell confidence?) I have so much to say, or rather so much that I think and feel about this, but I feel like my words won’t be adequate. Also, I don’t want to ruin anything for people who still haven’t read it. Nevertheless, I’ll try to produce the right words. Cruel Beauty is a gorgeous blend of mythology and fairy tale. Absolutely gorgeous. This book is perfect in that sense. The world-building, atmosphere, language, setting, story arc, and character types are all right on the mark. The creativity of this re-imagining is astounding.
Three issues I take with in this book:
1) I wish there had been more interaction between Nyx and Ignifex. The romance was just a tad too quick for me. I wanted them to have more conversations about just anything. I wanted them to get to know each other more.
2) *SPOILER ALERT* Shade. I did not really want this character around. I would have preferred the romance to be just between Ignifex and Nyx, although Shade was necessary and his presence makes sense in the context of the big reveal. Perhaps it’s not so much his existence that I didn’t like, but the way he interacted with Nyx. I would have wanted him to be more of a best friend character. I think that would have worked a lot better. It might have something to do with my hatred of love triangles.
3) I wish there had been more going on than Nyx looking throughout the castle, even though that was significant to her mission. I just wanted a few other events to be going on, day after day, maybe to ratchet up the suspense or add more layers to this already rich world. Hodge could have really played on that.
Despite my complaints, I really liked this book. By the way, the ending is a bit confusing, and more than a bit heart-wrenching, but it is perfect in its strangeness and the way it matches the myth/fairy tale vibe of the story. I’ve said it before; endings can’t always work out perfectly. The ending is ultimately happy, though. Such a fascinating book. I would definitely say read it. It’s very original, despite being based on ages-old tales.