Title: Cruel Beauty
Publication: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
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.
She is the sacrifice. He is a monster. Bound by matrimony, Nyx must become the dutiful wife to a man who has tormented her people and caused her mothers' death. She's been trained with the skill necessary to defeating him and she's been ready to die with him. Nyx is an interesting character, though she feels duty bound to avenge a death that really wasn't her fault but sort of her fathers' for his bargain with Ignifex, she goes forward with in spite of the resentment and hatred towards her own family for being weak. I liked the first meeting between Nyx and Ignifex because she doesn't just walk in all docile but she's goes in fighting and I think this is what draws Ignifex in and eventually makes her see him differently with their banter and spending time with each other. Ignifex tells her up front that she he will ask her each night to guess his name but if she gets it wrong she'll die thus the rules of the arrangement, morbid I know but I enjoyed the back and forth play between these two. She also has another male interest in this book, named Shade that fancies Nyx and wants her to kill Ignifex; however things get more complicated and intriguing when the truth of the difficulty of her task and the secret of her husbands' true identity will possibly destroy everything she's gained. The characters are engaging and seeing them grow throughout the story is a beautiful thing. Nyx becomes a different person because of this situation and she begins to question her first impression of Ignifex. Overall, this dark love story is a refreshing take on the Beauty and the Beast that I liked.