Release Date:January 28, 2014/Audio unabridged edition released by Harper Audio
Format: MP3 Audio
Pages: 342 (Hardcover) / Audio Length: Approx 10 hours
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Source: Audiobook SYNC
Genre: YA Fantasy
Review Date: June 18, 2014
Rating: 2 bookmarks
Synopsis: 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.
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.
There were hints of the original Beauty and the Beast story here and there, but there was also one main part pulled from the Rumpelstiltskin tale. Remember the queen had to guess his name within 3 days? Well, the essence of that is in reflected in this book, not in the same way, but it was clear that's where that came from. Cruel Beauty is a fairy tale retelling with a mix of Hermetics (which is basically religious and occult teachings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus), Greek mythology, magical transforming houses and for extra measure - mixed up with a steam punk-ish vibe, magic and time travel, make for a somewhat over complicated story.
Getting back to the Beauty and the Beast tale, instead of the beast turning to a prince, we have a demon (a very good looking demon) that holds a prince prisoner. Is it that simple? Nope, it never is. Nyx was sent to the Gentle Lord as his wife as part of a bargain her father made. Her mission is to kill said demon with her Hermetics training while she'd distracting him with her wifely duties, if you know what I mean. While that plan seems simple enough and a bit crazy, I don't know how I feel about Nyx. This girl is a walking contradiction. She can't figure out what she wants to do. She starts out with a clear goal and it transforms into something else. Her constant feelings of inferiority and jealousy toward her sister are a constant downer. One moment she feels empowered to save the town from Ignifex, in the next moment she isn't worthy and she's a wicked sister.
In the end, all of the random things happening here and there did come together, but almost in a haphazardly way. It surely didn't feel like it was by design. While the end made sense overall, I found it unsatisfying.
As far as the narrator goes, I found it extremely hard to listen to her at first. I think that I just got used to her accent eventually. I found her boring to listen to. I'd have to rewind large portions because I either got distracted or fell asleep! With that said, I wonder a little bit if I read the book instead of listening to it if I would have enjoyed it more. I'm not sure about that because at times I found myself thinking, “What in the world is going on?”! This is about the story, not the narrator.
Anyways, that's enough moaning and groaning about this book. I rated it 2 bookmarks because I did finish it and it wasn't completely dreadful. Still, personally, I don't recommend it. I think there are better retellings to read out there. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself. If you take nothing else away from this review, take my advice and read it instead of listening on audio.
Happy Reading & Listening,