Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

by - May 29, 2019

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (2014)


Steamy Hatefuck Scale: 5/5
  • They hate each other, but oh, how they want each other. Their bitter barbs and threats are only interrupted by heated kisses and ravishing. (Yes, ravishing. Hodge used that word so I'll use it too) Scenes are all fade to black, leaving it to your imagination—but it's still pretty steamy! (Must be all the unbridled passion. Hate and love are two sides of the same coin, after all)
Secret Softness Scale: 4/5
  • Despite their antagonism and constant banter (flirting, basically), Nyx and Ignifex fall for each other pretty quick. They love each other a lot, so much that they sacrifice the inconceivable in the end. Some sweet scenes include Ignifex's fondness for laying his head on Nyx's lap, or sleeping in her arms at night, and both of them finally learning each other's true natures.
I was actually afraid for them scale (AKA is the conflict believable??): 3/5
  • Don't get me wrong; the conflict is heavy from the get-go. Ignifex is the demon lord who killed Nyx's mother and terrorizes their world. Nyx has trained to be an assassin from birth, and she's married off to him in order to kill him. All of Nyx's family wants Ignifex dead, and staying with him forever means betraying the world. There's another twist at the end that I won't spoil, but I felt like it was a cop out. Nyx finds a third option that means she won't really have to betray anyone in the end, and, eh, I expected more drama.
For fans of Sexy Broody Hero X and Fierce Heroine Y:
Ignifex has the prickly and secret softness of Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses) while Nyx has the unapologetic darkness of Lira (To Kill a Kingdom)

On to the actual review...

Cruel Beauty's book blurb taken from Goodreads:
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.

The prose is luscious, the romance is dark and passionate, and the characters are intriguing. If there's one thing Hodge excels at, it's worldbuilding. The novel mainly takes place in Ignifex's magical house—a winding labyrinth of mysterious rooms that appear and disappear (yes, like Hogwarts), sometimes with the intent to kill. This house is deadly to anyone that explores too deeply—even to its master. Nyx spends many days exploring the house in search of a way to kill Ignifex. If this were an animated series or a graphic novel, I think it would be beautiful.

There are only three living inhabitants of this house: Ignifex, Nyx, and Shade, a mysterious but kind man that wears Ignifex's face. He's a servant who's also trapped in the house, and Nyx falls for him first. He tries to help her destroy Ignifex too, so now there's this vicious love triangle: choose the evil demon lord Nyx is betrothed to, or his poor twin that wants her to save the world? But Hodge loves her twists, so of course Shade isn't as innocent as he seems.

I'll be honest. The concept is really cool, but the plot is nothing great. But hey, I'm here for the romance and characters! Nyx spends a lot of time exploring the house, and while the rooms are very fantastical, they might bore readers who aren't into adventure tropes. Even the ending is a bit... questionable, as I felt it didn't resolve that much, although it was an interesting twist. The heart of this book is really Nyx and Ignifex. They're both dark, cruel people—and they admit that wholly. That's why it's so fascinating to read about them. You can tell they truly love each other; it's just a bloody mess when one half is an evil demon and the other is an angry, violent girl.

All in all: read this if you LIVE for the enemies to lovers trope like me. Read this if you like unapologetically flawed and violent characters. That's all that appeals, really.

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  1. Ahh this is a lovely review and I love how you started it out, with your unique little scales here, so original and pretty cool!! :)
    I've read this book a little while ago and have to admit that, the concept was great but the book in itself disappointed me a little bit and left me feeling confused more than anything else, which made me so, so sad. I agree that the characters were interesting though :D

    1. Thank you for this comment! I agree with you; the ending was pretty confusing, but I was embarrassed to admit it just in case it was just me asklfjsl;df Still, Hodge is a promising writer and I want to check out her other works :)