World building: 8/10
Writing style: 9/10
Character building: 9/10
My Opinionated Review
Cruel Beauty was a surprisingly captivating story. I have not expected to like this story as much as I did, especially since I was never planning to pick this book up. But this well-written blend of Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology has completely sucked me in and would not let me go until I finished the story. I was confused half the time, hardly understanding what is going on, not even trying to guess how it is going to end, and half the time getting lost in a passionate, dangerous and complex romance. This book is nothing like I have ever read before, it was so different, so weird and so mysterious that somehow, everything seemed to work perfectly.
The story is about Nyx, a young girl who is promised to be a bride of a monster that has been terrorising the town she lives in. Her mission is to do whatever she has to until she kills the beast. Since she is one of the twins that were chosen for sacrifice their life for the future of the townsfolk, Nyx has quite a lot of bitterness and anger bottled up inside her. Of course, after the marriage, her seemingly terrifying husband is not what Nyx was expecting, taking her on a journey where she has to make really tough decisions and sacrifices in the process.
I will not attempt to describe the book in more detail since I believe it is worth going to the story blind. I just want to ensure you that the first impression of this novel might not be the greatest, but sticking with it pays off later on.
It is so refreshing to read unusual Beauty and the Beast type of story, where the heroine is not simply an altruistic innocent girl, but a complex strong character, having her moments of heroism as well as darkness. Nyx was a wonderful female lead, full of witty remarks and rebellious spirit, strong and loving, but also filled with hate and resentment. Moreover, the Beast was not just simply misunderstood, but a character who was able to show heroism as well as villainy. He was complex, he was evil and yet he was not, and nothing was so simple. It was just refreshing.
The dynamic between Nyx and Ignifex was the most entertaining part of the book. Although I often have problems with some kind of enemy lover storyline where the love interest actually indulges in bad actions, this time, the romantic plot brought me only joy. Mainly because the heroine actually acknowledged that Ignifex is a monster, she was aware of his impurity, and aware that she was no angel as well. And having such a strong and self-aware female lead completely changes the dynamics of the allure of an enemy-lover type of romance. Because all the power was in Nyx’s, not the Ignifex’s hands.
Apart from all the good and captivating storylines, there were quite a few moments that just seemed a little bit too weird, even for this book. The completely twisted weirdest love triangle type of thing, the constantly changing mystery of a house, and very complex historical/magical background that was hard to follow. Yet somehow, everything made sense and the things that did not – did not matter. This is how the enemy-turned-lover books are supposed to be written, with passion, and colourful dialogue, and equality ground from both sides. This is also how a great fantasy book is supposed to be created, where it is impossible to guess the final outcome. I have trouble fully understanding the ending, and the whole book world, even after finishing the story.
Overall, my low expectations of the book left me completely surprised and enchanted with the story. I have laughed and cried, was entwined in mystery and passion, and overall, glad that I decided to read this story. If more authors would create such strong and complex female leads…
It is a weird story, it does not have the expected plot and does not follow the familiar structure. But after you get used to the weirdness, the book has so much to offer. So whether you love fantasy, or a captivating enemy-lover type of romance, or just like the idea of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I would recommend picking this underdog up.