Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Nyx’s father bargained with the Gentle Lord for healthy children. His price: his wife was dead.

No bargain is left without a price.

It is Nyx’s duty to kill the Gentle Lord, avenge her mother and free her world so the true sky can be seen again.

But what if this is a price that she cannot pay?

cruel beauty


I thought this book was okay. It didn’t strike me or leave a huge impression on me. Nevertheless, this had a nice flow in the writing style and I did like it. The constant repetition of “my husband” did rub me the wrong way but I got past that as I read on.

One of the things that was difficult for me to be fully engaged with the novel was the romance. It was a love triangle and although I am no fan of love triangles, I kind of liked this one (WEIRD, RIGHT?). It was unique and was taken a completely different direction from a conventional love triangle.

It just struck me as strange as to how fast the romance came about. It wasn’t insta-love but it came close to it: Nyx kissed Shade after a few hours being sent to a house to kill her husband! And the word “love” was thrown around so easily. I like my angst and the journey of liking to loving.

The banter and bickering of I-love-you and I-hate-your-guts was interesting to read. It was entertaining and lovable and really showed the dynamic of their situation. A lovely spin on the forbidden love trope. The key stealing was cute.

The weak part about this novel was the moments of confusion. I just didn’t understand some parts (especially that ending). And it was also not clear to me exactly what the Hermetic sigils were and how important were they (but perhaps I skimmed over that part). The ending was so open-ended that I thought there must be a sequel but it’s a standalone.

I felt like a lot of the explanations got brushed over and wasn’t explored more fully. That hindered my reading enjoyment.

The Characters

The biggest surprise for me was Astraia. It just goes to show that not everyone is who they seem and perhaps there is no true kindness (which I’m totally fine with, by the way). Great twist on an otherwise bland character.

I also loved the fact that we had a protagonist who was full of flaws and knew it too. Nyx was self-conscious, angry and bitter and I liked that. Because who wouldn’t hate life if you were forced into a marriage for a revenge plot that was not your fault? It was realistic in that sense.

The different shadings of black and white into Ignifex’s and Shade’s characters were great. They weren’t clearly defined as good and bad but both had those “handfuls of kindness”. Ignifex was witty and funny and bad but clearly had his own demons to deal with. Shade was sombre and sincere but clearly had his own agenda.


All in all, this book brought a great spin and hybrid of Beauty and the Beast and Greek mythology. The characters were well-developed but parts of the plot and romance suffered from lack of in-depth exploration.

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