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Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

I went into reading this book with fairly high expectations. The blurb proudly claims "Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast", so I thought, "Hell yes, this is going to be amazing!" I loved Graceling and I adore faerie tale retellings or retellings of classics. Unfortunately, there were some aspects of this book that just didn't work for me.

The main plot line is fantastic. It is well thought out, plays off of the original story well, and is full of surprises the reader never sees coming. I particularly enjoyed the mythological elements that were included and how they tie back into the plot. I am always a sucker for any Greek or Roman mythology references.

I was really disappointed in the fact that we did not get to see more of Nyx's training. Comparing this book to Graceling seems like a bit of a stretch, considering there is almost no combat at all and the only training we really hear about is through Nyx's references to it in her past after she has already been moved into the castle.

One of the main things that fell flat for me was the romance. Neither Ignifex nor Shade seem to have any believable connection to Nyx at all--there is simply no chemistry. I also found Nyx's disloyalty to Ignifex and Shade and the creation of the love triangle particularly frustrating. The fact that the triangle is resolved later in a rather clever way makes up for it a bit, but this fact does not make it any less frustrating to read.

Overall, I really appreciated what this book was trying to do, and I think there were some elements of it that worked particularly well. I always love to see Greek and Roman mythology included in books in creative ways, and the twists on the classic "Beauty and the Beast" tale were amazingly clever. Unfortunately, the romance between Nyx and the male leads was too flat to go unnoticed and kind of ruined the story for me. I would recommend this book to fans of faerie tale retellings, romance, and mythology.