Published: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
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.
Cruel Beauty was an intense and fascinating retelling of Beauty and the Beast that harkened back to earlier less sanitised versions of the fairytale. In fact Beauty, in this case Nyx, is really quite an unlikeable character. She's self-centred and selfish, and while it can be argued that she has just cause, since she has known for most of her life that she will be sacrificed, she's basically just not a nice person. That said, it was very intriguing watching Nyx work her way through the mysteries and intricacies of Ignifex's castle. Very occasionally we even see small hints of selflessness and true feelings, but not often.
As for Ignifex & Shade, well I rather liked Ignifex, but then I've always been a bit of a sucker for the bad boys. Shade was a bit of a puzzle and slightly strange, but I did manage to work out what his story is - no spoilers here folks. Let's face it, we know more or less what's going to happen in the end, don't we? In this case though, the journey was intriguing and different. All in all, not a bad retelling, but not one of my favourites.