“Cruel Beauty”Review and My Own Retelling

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know my own retelling of Beauty and the Beast has recently been accepted by the small publisher, “Books To Go Now”. The final edits have been sent in, my cover has been selected and the title tentatively set to “Belle and the Beast”. It’s a short ebook with a modern spin and I look forward to the day when I get to share it with all of you.

Aside from my own ebook I’m also looking forward to the release of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. The classic, animated version danced into my life when I was about 4 years old and there it has remained as my favorite movie of all time. When I heard about their new, life action film I could barely contain myself! Then the news kept getting better, I mean, what’s not to love about a cast featuring Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Bard the Boatman (Luke Evans), Gandalf (Ian McKellon) and Professor Trelawny (Emma Thompson)? Ah yes, the nerd is strong with this one.

I am an avid collector of all things Beauty and the Beast. I have countless, crummy cartoons that have been watched once and then reverently stored away to be gawked at later. I’ve picked up every copy or version of Beauty and the Beast that I can get my hands on (Beauty by Robin McKinley is an all time favorite). Posters and pictures frame my nerd room (this is important to me) of Belle in her swirling, golden gown with a dreamy look on her face.

So when I went to Barnes and Noble a few weeks after Christmas I knew I needed another Beauty and the Beast retelling to sustain me until the movie came out. When I saw the cover to “Cruel Beauty” I was instantly drawn to it. The bold, red rose cast a light of beauty and splendor that was sharply contrasted with a cold, dreary staircase. A lone figure in a billowing, crimson gown gave off an air of mystery as she ascended to a place just out of sight.

I picked up the book and looked at the back cover. “Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast…”

Check please!

So of course I made my boyfriend drive home while I buried my nose in the newly acquired book. It was definitely a page turner and I finished it in about 3 days (day jobs are such a drag.)

The story centers around a girl named Nyx and she is betrothed to a monster. Her Father made a deal with A Very Bad Man otherwise known as the Gentle Lord or Ignifix before her birth. Of course the deal went south and resulted in Nyx’s Mother dying. Her Father, filled with rage, begins training Nyx in the ways of the Hermetic arts so she can defeat Ignifix, avenge her mother and save the entire world. The only downside is (drum roll please) Nyx will die in the process.

Meanwhile, Nyx’s sweet twin sister, the mirror image of the their dead mother, is doted upon and showered with all the love that Nyx is denied. Why? Because the deal was that one of the twins would marry Ignifix and the father singled out Nyx to be the bad man’s bride.

Without giving too much away, I really couldn’t identify with any of the characters. They are all full of spite, hatred, anger and revenge. It definitely created a barrier between me and the story.

Nyx is really confusing. She hates her family, she wants to save all of them. She hates Ignifix, she’s in love with him. It felt very inconsistent. Not to mention the romance was forced and rushed. I couldn’t feel myself falling in love with Ignifix which was frustrating to me because your’re supposed to really feel what you’re characters are feeling. I did find myself enjoying him though.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t shy away from this book! The story is a bit loose in some places and the characters a tad underdeveloped for my taste but the land that Rosamund Hodge created is truly breathtaking. As a fellow author I have to say her wold building is an inspiration to me. She is a truly gifted world builder. There’s a lot about the Hermetic Arts in there that I didn’t know and it was a fun and interesting read. Her history is detailed and unique. The “Beast” has his own backstory that was both intriguing and jarring. Rosamund Hodge breathed new life into an old fairy tale and made it her own. This is not a story that you will find anywhere else and in fact, you will only find hints of the original Beauty and the Beast tale as it revolves around Rosamund’s own, distinctive plot.

Overall, not the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling I’ve read and definitely one that I’ll reread. In fact, I heard there’s a sequel and I enjoyed this book enough that I’ll be picking it up.

Remember to check back for another review of Rosamund Hodge! Until then, pick up her book and give it a read.

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