Nyx Triskelion was raised with the knowledge that she was to be married off to the Gentle Lord. The result of a bargain made between her father and the demon before her birth, the marriage is meant not only as payment for the trade but as a way for the people of Arcadia to finally bring down the being that has ruled over them for nine hundred years. Trained in the Hermetic arts, Nyx is to defeat the beast even if it means her own death. But Nyx's training didn't prepare her for the worst possibility of all - falling in love with her new husband.
Ooh, I get tingles just reminiscing about this book to put together my review! Rosamund Hodge's debut is quite possibly one of a small list of extremely highly anticipated 2014 releases. As such, I was hopeful that it would live up to expectations but understandably prepared in the event that it didn't. Thankfully my fears were not realized as Cruel Beauty not only lives up to but far, far exceeds every expectation I had for it.
I was enchanted by the idea of a play on Beauty and the Beast but unprepared for the brilliance of Hodge's interpretation. She's blended not only the classic tale but added in Roman/Greek mythology as well. The legend of Pandora plays a big role in the story - a fabulous role actually. There's even a bit of the Bluebeard legend here as well and likely a slew of others I missed references to.
The imagery in Cruel Beauty, which Hodge points out has a basis in T. S. Eliot's Four Quarters (which I need to read now), is amazing! It's both beautiful and horrible, which is an apt way to describe Ignifex's house as well as the world in which Arcadia is trapped.
Readers, I can find no complaint with this book except that it had to end.
Imagery and mythology aside, Nyx has got to be one of my favorite new characters to be introduced to. She's a complex one to be sure, a girl who has fostered such a deep hatred for her life and her family that she in some ways feels she's deserving of her fate. And yet she finds the strength to meet her challenges head on.
Cruel Beauty is such an accomplished debut that I can't wait to see what Hodge might have up her sleeve next. Highly, highly recommended and another favorite of 2014!