Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Going into this, I thought I was going to end up with a completely different story than what I was left with at the final page. Cruel Beauty is about a young woman, Nyx, who trained her whole life to defeat the evil ruler of their kingdom. When she finally reaches the castle and meets the enemy, things don’t go as planned. There’s more to Ignifex than meets the eye, and her mission must adapt.
I kept hearing how this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Though I usually find those cringe-y, I actually think this book would’ve been better off if there were more similarities. I wish it were as simple as that summary, as Beauty and the Beast, as another YA novel with a love triangle and predictable twists and turns. Because my biggest problem with this book was that it was jam packed with all this mythology.
Beauty and the Beast is fine. Mythology is fine. But trying to do both, and so heavy handedly, is trying to do too much. Anytime authors lean too much on another culture/society or whatever, it just starts to feel lazy and gimmicky. The naming, the world-building, the constant myth-referencing, just…ugh. Come on. It was like reading an allegory–am I supposed to enjoy the story, or is this some sneaky way to brush up on my history? Greco/Roman Mythology is great, but you can pull from it without being so obvious about it. The plot would have been way less clunky/cluttered that way.
So this is one of the few instances I’m not complaining about the “meh” protagonist or the love triangle or insta-love. In fact if those would have been my only critiques, I probably would have enjoyed Cruel Beauty a whole lot more.