Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted February 6, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 26 Comments

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28th, 2014
Genres: fantasy, retellings, young adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is as she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband.Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.For fans of bestselling authors Kristin Cashore and Alex Flinn, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

2014 is not off to a great start for me as far as reading goes. This is the THIRD time I have been the black sheep and the month is not even over yet. Everbound/Evertrue, Being Sloane Jacobs, and now Cruel Beauty. I’m not sure what is going on, but I can’t help liking what I like, and this book did not work for me on a multitude of levels. That’s not to say it was bad, because it wasn’t. I just feel it was overhyped and oversold, and I didn’t get what I expected out of the reviews I read. I know expectations are totally my fault though and I take complete ownership of that.

So rather than write a long and drawn out review, I am just going to list things, because when it comes right down to it, I would rather just get my issues out and move on with my life. I don’t have a lot to see either as this was just a very meh read for me. 

Let’s start with the good things:

1. It’s a standalone AND it’s a fantasy novel. That’s incredibly rare and I do hope it STAYS that way and the publisher/author doesn’t increase the number of books to try and attempt a moneygrab.

2. The world-building was interesting. It didn’t always work for me but I totally have to give the author credit for weaving mythology, Beauty and the Beast, and managing to make something original and intriguing out of it. 

3. The writing was pretty. I didn’t much care for it but I can’t deny the beauty of the prose. I will talk more about the rest in my dislikes. 

That’s about it, unfortunately. I told you it was a hot mess for me. Let me get into my criticisms now. Even though I don’t wanna. 

1. So back to the writing. Even though it was pretty, I found it lacked a lot of clarity. There were times I had NO IDEA what the hell was going on and I consider myself a pretty intelligent person. I just don’t feel a lot of things were explained well. There was a lack of detail and so many vague explanations that didn’t work for me. And the imagery was off too. I liked some of it, but I had a tough time mentally picturing some of the scenes. So, not good for me there.

2. I didn’t connect to any of the characters. Not a single one. Not Ignifex, not Nyx, not Shade, nor any of the side characters. I Just found them flat and dull. The chemistry between Nyx and Shade and Ignifex didn’t work for me at all, and yes, there is a love triangle. With a twist. I will admit the ending eked a few emotions out of me, but that was it. I give her points for that ending though. It was pretty brilliant and I think if I HAD been in love with this book, I would have been over the moon.

3. What is with the repetitiveness? The entire first half was slow and bogged down with a ton of the same thing over and over. It’s just Nyx running from room to room looking for the hearts in the castle that she needs to stop the Gentle Lord from terrorizing the countryside. It sounds exciting, but for me it wasn’t. The book took about 130 pages to really get going for me, and for YA I find that FAR too long.

4. Way too much focus on the romance. I knew there would be quite a bit of it, but I also was hoping for some really strong fantasy elements and mythology. It was too far on the romance end of the spectrum for me. This was basically a romance novel with fantasy elements. I prefer it the other way around. 

Wrapping this up, I have to say that even though I am rating this three stars out of five, this is by far my most disappointing read of 2014 thus far, right behind Being Sloane Jacobs. Maybe my expectations are too high. I consider it a lesson and I will rein myself in in the future. 

26 responses to “Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

  1. This is the second mehh review I’ve seen for this book, and it’s actually quite nice to see. Kara, you can’t help how you feel, so don’t feel bad for it, it’s great that you could see and read it from a different view point and point out the flaws with clarity. You gave the book a go and it wasn’t for you, but I do hope your next read really works for you, you deserve a fantastic book to lift your spirits! 🙂

    Book Badger

  2. Hey good for you for standing by your reading of the book and not bowing to all the great reviews there are for this one. If it makes you feel any better, I read another not so positive review for this one today.

    I think sometimes it’s tough when a book gets a ton of hype, because then you can’t help but expect great things and it’s extra disappointing when the book doesn’t hit the mark.

  3. After waves of positive reviews for this one…both you and Amber have rated it low on the same day.

    No doubt I’ll still try it at some point, mainly because I like the idea of imperfect characters, but my belief that those flaws will be handled well is definitely waning.

    I’m like you on the romance front. I love a good romance, but I prefer it to be in addition…rather than the driving force behind everything.

    • Yes! I guess I should have expected the book to be heavy on the romance, but…. I also thing if I had connected with the characters maybe it wouldn’t have mattered as much.


    Just kidding. <3

  5. I needed to see this. This book is so hyped up that I’m worried my expectations are too high. This helps temper them a little. I really want to love this book though, and I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t live up to your expectations.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  6. This one worked for me, surprisingly. I think it was in part because I came in with my eyes wide open knowing what to expect-plus, I had a month long succession of terrible reads which probably made this one come out in a better light than it would normally. I really think the pacing was messed up though. The last fourth of the book in comparison to the first 3/4 just seemed rushed. I think it was a repetitive thing like you were mentioning. I just pray that we’re not subjected to a sequel, I know that Hodge has a novella coming out in the same universe but it seems to be a Cinderella retelling.

  7. Sorry you didn’t like it, Kara. I honestly think this is one of those books you either love or hate. Even as I was reading it, I was thinking “Wow, some people are not going to like this AT ALL.” I did love it, but it’s just a matter of preference. I read a few books last year that I did not like much (THE BONE SEASON and NOT A DROP TO DRINK) that everyone was raving about, so I know how you feel. Thank God we’re not all the same, right?

  8. This one just worked for me, but if her writing-style doesn’t work for you it’s not strange you end up disliking it. I just connected with the way she wrote the story 😀 And I was surprised by how much I liked the romance, because most of the times I enjoy the as less romance as possible. I’m sorry you didn’t like it as much as I did!

    • Yup, I think that’s what it was mostly. The writing was just too vague for me. And it’s okay. I seem to be in the minority on this one. My own co-blogger liked it more than I did!

  9. Awwww, this makes me sad, but hey different strokes for different folks. Like, I loved the romance focus. I loved that Nyx is someone whose hate wafts off the page, at least for me, because her situation sucked, instead of her being like, oh hey I am here to kick butt and pleased with that. I liked her resentment.


    I totally get why you were just not that into Cruel Beauty and respect that.

  10. Amy

    Sorry this didn’t quite work for you. I never really connected with the characters either, but I could identify with some of their feelings and tried to put myself in the same situations and think what I would do. I really loved the writing, I thought it was beautiful. Like you though, sometimes I found myself a bit confused at things.Your review is honest and fantastic. Love it!!

  11. This review is pretty much me with These Broken Stars. Hate when books don’t live up to the hype and especially the reviews of your friends. Sorry this one didn’t work out for you but I’m glad to see at least one review that didn’t scream OMG LOVE! Makes me feel a bit better trying this one out. Excellent review Kara!

  12. I think this is the first so-so review of this one I’ve read, which is sorta refreshing. EVERYONE was raving about it and that always makes me nervous. I let my e-arc expire, which makes me sad but what can you do?

    I’m glad you liked the writing, but at the same time if it’s pretty and you don’t know what’s happening, that ain’t good. And blah, when you don’t connect to the characters, the best-written book/s are still hard to rate higher. When you don’t FEEL anything, it takes the fun out of reading. 🙁

    • I know. I hate feeling like the black sheep but some of the writing was just too vague for me. I didn’t connect to any of the characters because they felt one-note to me. I understand the author’s motivations and reasons for doing it this way, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

  13. Okay, so I totally agree with you on the writing being pretty but also confusing. I feel like I missed a lot of her world building stuff because it wasn’t clear enough. It also took 150-200 pages to really get interesting. However, I liked it more than you because OMG THE ROMANCE. I would take more tbh. One of my top ships ever. Gah, my swoons.

    • Yeah, I WISH I had been into the romance like all of you were. I didn’t dislike them but I never connected with the characters. Which was probably due to the writing. I am so glad you were able to though.

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