Review | Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1) by Rosamund Hodge

cbTitle: Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Retellings

Synopsis: 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.

Would I recommend? I feel like this is a great book if you like Shatter Me. Idk, just similar vibes, I guess?

Final Rating:2 red

Check out this book’s Goodreads page!

Aimal's Review maroon

I haven’t read many Beauty & the Beast retellings. In fact, the only one I have read (other than this one) is A Court of Thorns & Roses, and I really loved that book. I went into this expecting something similar- a slow-burning romance, a passionate tale about love, acceptance thrown against a dark fantasy background. I mean, what’s not to love about that image? Unfortunately, while I flew through this, I didn’t get most of the stuff I was looking for. The plot was okay, but it was brought down because of the unnecessarily complicated mythology, and there was a weird love-triangle thing going on that I was not invested in. All in all, I went into this expecting so much more, and I came out feeling extremely disappointed.

Plot red

Nyx’s father made a deal with the evil Gentle Lord of Arcadia a long time ago- if he could have children, he would give the Gentle Lord his daughter in marriage. So since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the most evil man in the land. She’s bitter and angry, but she has a plan to take down this man at the expense of her life and happiness, as long as Arcadia remains safe from him. But when Nyx gets to the Gentle Lord’s home, she starts to feel things for him she never expected to feel.

So, the story is pretty straightforward. Beauty goes to beast’s house to take him down, Beauty and Beast fall in love and the rest just takes off from there. The first half was very interesting. I flew through it. The interactions between Nyx and Ignifex were very amusing; their banter was fun to read. But I have to say that their interactions were the only good parts in this book. I did also really enjoy the ending. It was unpredictable, and completely different from what I expected.

But the rest just fell flat for me. The mystery aspect was uninteresting and dull. I was not invested in the plot. There was a complicated, weird love triangle thing happening that made very little sense to me. The romance with Shade was insta-lovey and I didn’t buy it for one second. The romance with Ignifex kind of came out of nowhere, and it seemed like it was just there for the sake of the retelling, rather than an inevitable, reasonable attraction.

But I think what bothered me the most was the world-building. I could tell that Hodge had a very clear picture of the world/mythology in her mind, but it just didn’t translate well on paper. It was very confusing, and right when you think you’ve gotten over the chunks of mythological text, you’re slapped in the face with a little more. The premise was interesting, because it was a spin on Greek mythology, but it didn’t tie together cohesively. The reading experience thus felt very disjointed.

Characters red

Nyx bothered me a lot. And I think that had to do with how she came off initially. She was extremely bitter about her family and her situation (and I would be too). But a character can be bitter without being annoying. Rosamund Hodge put in pages and pages of Nyx whining about how nobody loves her and how she was bargained away. Okay, I get it- it’s a sucky situation. But do something about it instead of sitting there and complaining and being a bitch to someone who’s not even at fault. After that, even if Nyx redeemed herself (I don’t think she did though), I was too bothered by her annoying traits to care. She had no sense of loyalty, and she was confused half the time. I didn’t see her undergoing any character development either.

Shade was boring. I don’t know what else to say about him, except that he was the most dull character I have read in a very long time. He had no personality, and he was basically just there as a plot device, rather than an actual, important character. I was not invested in his and Nyx’s relationship at all, so their interactions were just meh.

Ignifex was interesting, I’ll give you that. I went into this book expecting an interesting beast, and even though I wasn’t blown away by his character, I was still intrigued by his story. Hodge did a great job of keeping her readers on their toes- you were never sure what Ignifex’s deal was; was he actually a good guy or was he just plain evil? I’m still not sure, which is what kept me reading.

writing red

I can’t say much about Hodge’s writing style, except that it didn’t blow me away. She does have a knack for descriptive language, and she is fantastic at vivid world-building. But that’s about it. Her dialogue was lackluster, the world-building (despite being descriptive) was unnecessarily complicated. The pacing wasn’t great, nor were the characters especially well-written. But this is a debut novel, and I’ve learned that a lot of authors can grow tremendously just by getting their first book published. I’m sure Hodge has it in her to grow as a writer; unfortunately, I’m just not invested enough to pick up anything else by her.


  1. Oh no, I’m sorry that it wasn’t what you wanted. This has been on my TBR for a while because I’ve seen so many bloggers rave about it. I hate it when the MC is really whiny and bratty (eg. Eadlyn from The Heir) so I’ll probably feel the same way about Nyx. But I’m glad to hear that the Beast is a somewhat interesting character. I guess I’ll just have to distance myself from ACOTAR when I finally pick up Cruel Beauty.

  2. I love your review, Aimal! This book is on my TBR, but I’m not sure when I plan to read it. It’s good to see a differing perspective of the book rather than constant ravings that this was an excellent retelling! I will definitely be keeping in mind what you said when I pick this book up..

    xoxo 😊

    • Thank youu! Yeah, I’d heard nothing but fabulous reviews either. But then again, I’ve been giving books low ratings since forever. The last four-star book I read was in late July, sheesh. D: But the one I’m reading right now might just bring me out of my slump, so I’m excited! Hope you like this more than I did though! x

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