Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published: January 28, 2014
352 pages
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Source: For Review

The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

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.
2 Stars

Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix of Greek Mythology.  The story opens on a very stiff and formal life for the main character Nyx like a dark version of Downton Abbey.  Then we get a nice, long lecture on How This World Works that I found hard to get through.

I was entertained by the story but I really didn’t like the cop-out device of Nyx having “no choice” to create these dramatic situations.  Nyx is engaged to a demon since birth because her father made a bargain and now she has no choice but to marry him.  This bothers me for two reason. 1. It takes away the self-sacrifice element of Beauty and the Beast that I love but, more importantly, think was the main point of the fairy tale.  2. Her dad is an idiot.  And 3 — okay apparently there are more than reasons why this bothers me — she doesn’t “have” to do anything.  It made the main character seem very passive about her life.  She was very negative and spiteful all the time.  I didn’t like her all that much, which is fine, but if she’s going to be unlikable then at least make me understand why she did things.  I never understood why she did things.

I did like the quest of trying to find the demon’s name which was one of the few elements remaining from the original fairy tale.  The castle was a wonderful adventure full of strange rooms like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I didn’t like it.  I felt like the ending did not have anything to do with what they had been doing for almost the whole novel.  I felt like we spent the whole novel doing one thing and she suddenly decides to change course and last minute do something very drastic.  And as the books comes to a close, I felt like the characters were so completely different that they weren’t even the same characters anymore.  They felt like strangers and I didn’t care all that much what happened to them.

Overall, it was too dark of a fairy tale retelling with poor world building and unlikable characters that just wasn’t for me even though I did like the Greek Mythology element of the story.

Content Rating: Medium, for quite a bit of dark innuendo (that is thankfully not very graphic) about a girl trying to seduce a demon which I found mildly disturbing.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  I received this book for review from the publisher, Harper Collins,  in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own.  I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review. 

About Rosamund Hodge

Rosamond Hodge

I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. My debut novel, CRUEL BEAUTY (a YA fantasy where Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast), is due out on January 28, 2014.

My name is Jessica and I love to read Young Adult (especially fantasy and dystopian) and classic literature. Besides reading, I love to play the piano, the guitar, and to travel. I'm a stay at home mom of two boys. I’m a tech nerd and I love to keep up on the latest in cool gadgets.   Read more....
Find me on Twitter at @BooksATrueStory


  1. Too bad! I was really looking forward to this one. I’ll still read it.

  2. That’s too bad! The cover looked really cool and I was kind of interested in reading it. But it sounds like it’s not the book for me either.

  3. Sorry to hear that this was a dud for you. I have noticed that people either really enjoy this book or find it lacking.

  4. I’ve heard the same sentiments from others. I may still have to try it out of pure curiosity. I’ll probably regret it. I hate when main characters are unlikable.

  5. The ending totally didn’t fit for me too. It felt rushed and really awkward. I also felt like the characters weren’t true to who they’d been set up to be.

  6. Yeah, I didn’t really love this one either. This seemed like a sure thing for me since I love retellings and fair tales. There were so many parts that were difficult for me to get through and I completely agree with you about Nyx.

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