On what was supposed to be the happiest day of a woman's life, Nyx was anything but. All her life, she's known that she will be the wife of the Gentle Lord, the very reincarnation of the devil himself who strikes deals with the desperate - deals that more often than not always work in his favor. And all her life, it is with this thinking that she knows that she must kill him. But Ignifex seems not to be whom she originally thought he was. He's cunning, mischievous, even playful, but he is also the first person to truly see her as she is. Nyx knows that her original mission was to kill Ignifex and save Arcadia, but there seems to be a few kinks in the developments that follow that may make that plan impossible.
If there were a poll for best female heroine of the year, I would probably scream Nyx's name from the top of my lungs. She is exactly the kind of heroine I've been waiting for - she's clever, incredibly sassy, and she's not afraid to dole out her death threats in the same breath she could ask Ignifex if he could please pass the butter. Nyx might be spitting poison, but her anger isn't entirely pointless and absurd, what with her being almost forced to be the daughter to be married to the Gentle Lord. But Nyx did get the right side of the bargain. Ignifex is actually a delight to read about, because even if Nyx was somehow using her feminine wiles to charm him, it seems that he's not above to trying to seduce her as well - which he does more than willingly. While he's busy trying to evade Nyx's attempts to sever some parts of his anatomy or kill him, he's also allowing her to come inside the walls people put up for him in order for her to truly understand him.
Cruel Beauty doesn't also only play with a Beauty and the Beast retelling. The numerous magical doors remind me a lot of Bluebeard as well, and this aspect even makes the story richer as Nyx tries to discover the 'hearts' of the house to bring Ignifex, even at the expense of her own heart.
The story does go a bit loopy towards the end and it might be a bit distracting, which was why I took off half a rainbow. But that aside, Cruel Beauty is an utterly delicious treat about the real power of love and the importance of truth.
Rosamund Hodge's Cruel Beauty is expected to hit bookstands on January 28, 2014.