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346 pages, Hardcover
First published January 28, 2014
If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.Actual rating: 3.5
I had broken my sister’s heart. I would never see her again, so I could never beg her forgiveness. I had let hatred fester in me so long, I didn’t think I could ever learn to love her properly, either. But I could make sure she lived free of the Gentle Lord, no longer afraid of his demons, with the true sun shining down upon her.Nyx has been groomed half her life to be the Gentle Lord's bride, but her father and his secret society has other plans for her: she will marry him, she will seduce him, she will kill him. Nyx will save Arcadia from the demons.
"One. Every night I will offer you the chance to guess my name. If you guess right, you have your freedom. If you guess wrong, you die.”Instead of someone unimaginably cruel, the stuff of nightmares, she finds him full of laughter, full of mockery, full of games. He likes her spirit, he likes her defiance.
"Rule two. Most of the doors in this house are locked. This key will open all the rooms you are permitted to enter. Do not try to enter the other rooms or you will regret it dearly...though not for very long.”
I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart.But Ignifex is also capable of unimaginable cruelty; he makes her shudder with fear. Unexpectedly, she finds an ally in his magical castle, one named Shade. One who is close to the Gentle Lord, but who can never betray him.
My fingers found cloth, then something soft and cold.Dead wives. Shadowy horrors that drives a person into madness. The castle is equally splendid and sinister.
I shuddered, but my mind refused to recognize it until I groped farther and my fingers slid past teeth into a cold, wet mouth.
With a scream, I bolted back against the door. I rubbed my hand viciously against my skirt, but the fabric could not wipe away the memory of touching the dead girl’s tongue.
The dead wife’s tongue. Because now my eyes were growing truly accustomed to the light, and I could see all eight of them, laid out on their stone blocks as if stored for future use.
I hate you [Mother], I prayed silently. Father only bargained for your sake. If you had not been so weak, so desperate, I would not be doomed. I hate you, Mother, forever and ever.I love a good depiction of sisterly relationships, and Nyx's relationship with her twin sister, Astraia, was so well done. There is absolutely no doubt that Nyx adores her sister while simultaneously hating her as well. Astraia has been adored by everyone since she was born, while her twin sister, Nyx, has been groomed to die. Nyx has lived her life in resentment, and who can blame her for that? Even so, she never, ever shows her bright, innocent sister any hate until she is overwhelmed by her emotions on the day of her wedding...which might as well have been a funeral.
I had thought the words so often, they felt like nothing in my mouth, like no more than a breath of air, and as easily as breathing I went on:Nyx speaks her mind, regrets it immediately, and spends the rest of the book tortured by those final words to her beloved sister.
“The truth is, Mother died because of you, and now I have to die for your sake too. And neither one of us will ever forgive you.”
Then I shoved her aside and strode out of the room.
But I was a girl who had broken her sister’s heart and—for a moment—liked it. I had left somebody in torment and liked it.The Romance: It was well done, but there were entirely way too fucking much of it. As I said above, there were too much romance at the expense of the actual plot. Once Nyx got into the castle, I expected her to plot, to finalize her plan to kill Ignifex. She didn't. She spends her time moping. She spends her time making googly eyes at Shade, then after resisting Ignifex (who is technically her husband), slowly lowers her resistance...then kisses Shade. Then kisses Shade some more. COME ON, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE PLOTTING TO KILL THE EVIL GUY. What pisses me off is that Nyx and her father has a plan to kill Ignifex using Hermetic sciences and she did not follow through except in the most halfhearted way. Instead, this is what we get:
I didn’t want to keep being that person.
It was nothing like kissing Shade. That had been like a dream that slowly enfolded me; this was like a battle or a dance. [Ignifex] took possession of my mouth and I took possession of his, and we held each other in a perilous, perfect balance like the circulation of the planets.Less romance, more plot, please.
They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true. For Ignifex was still himself, still mocking and wild and inhuman, terrible as a legion arrayed for war; but in my arms he became gentle, and his kisses were sweeter than wine.
"If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart."
“You seem to be recovered,” he said.
"I hope you aren’t planning to order me back to bed."
"No, you have far too much crockery at your disposal.”He sat down beside me and started piling apples into a tower.
"You are losing your ability to terrify me,” I observed after his apple tower had fallen twice.
Ignifex touched my cheek very gently, as if I were a bird that might be startled into flight. Finally I met his eyes.
"And,” I said. “I suppose I do love you.” Then he pulled me into his arms.
me: *high fives brain*
me: *injures brain*
“Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried.”
I honestly expected to hate Cruel Beauty. I don't read many books with an average rating of under 4 on GR because so far, I only ended up liking 3 or so. So you can only imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying this book. I heard many negative things about Cruel Beauty and I was waiting for something terrible. I decided to read it because I was in this fairy tale retelling mood and I'm glad I did!
I liked how Nyx was a gray character. She's flawed. And she knew it and embraced it. She hated her family and it's normal to not like them considering how she was raised. I understand her controversy because it's still her family she can't help loving them but a the same time hating them for giving her sister everything and sealing her own fate to death.
While I wasn't a big fan of the love-triangle, I kinda got it. That's all I can say without saying any spoiler.
I loved Ignifex. A lot. I loved his sarcasm and how he grew to care about her. I loved their relationship because both have their dark side and they made a very cute couple. While Nyx was attracted to him, it didn't let this stop her from accomplishing her mission. She kissed him and stole what she wants. So I couldn't help but root for them.
This book is not exactly light. I had some problems with the world-building which I felt it lacking and underdeveloped. I wish we had more books in the series (not about Nyx and Ignifex but maybe another story set in the SAME world) since the world seemed to be very vast and interesting, especially since it has more than a Greek mythology touch. Many times while reading though I found myself completely lost. This book made me want to read more fairy tales not just of the beauty and the beast but everything. so it kinda became special. I never read many because I don't know, I thought they'd be silly or something.
While I understand why many might not like it, I'd still recommend it if you're looking for an enjoyable retelling loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast. But then again, I'm no expert in this genre since I'm a newbie and all yet, I know that I loved it.
I found a rose garden under a glass dome; the roses formed a labyrinth in which I always got lost . . .
I was raised to marry a monster.
"I still might kill you," I told him, much later.
He traced a finger along my skin. "Who wouldn't."