Monday, February 13, 2017

Cruel Beauty

I have written two books that are retellings of classic stories. The first one, Poison Ivy, is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a fantasy world. The second, Masque, is a retelling of Cinderella, where Cinderella is unknowingly part of an assassination attempt that takes place at the ball. For NaNoWriMo this year my story was a retelling of Swan Lake, one of my favorite stories as a kid. I've devoured every book by Marissa Meyer, have read R.C. Lewis's Stitching Snow and am currently reading Spinning Starlight. All this to say, I really enjoy retellings. It's so cool to see a classic story tweaked and warped so that when you come to the familiar fork in the path where the characters should take a left, it's surprising when they take a right. Cruel Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it seemed appropriate to read since the Emma Watson film is coming out next month. Also, that cover, am I right?

Retrieved from Goodreads
Nyx has been betrothed to the cruel ruler of their kingdom since birth. And since birth she has been training to kill him. But when she is finally handed over to the lord, she is surprised to find he is not as evil as he looks. He gives her the ability to leave, if only she can find the answer to his question. Nyx is beguiled by the labyrinth of rooms, ever changing, in the castle, and comes to find that the evil lord might not be so evil after all.

Maybe it was the name Nyx, which reminds me of the River Styx, but the combo of medieval and Greek-like mythos in this world really threw me. Maybe it's because I listened to the audiobook and so would sometimes get distracted and miss something important, but this book didn't really resonate with me. There's some really interesting bits about pocket universe kinds of things, and the scenes between Ignifex and Nyx are pretty good. But I just had no idea where the plot was going most of the time, so the emotional beats missed a good portion of the time. I've read some really good retellings of Beauty and the Beast/East of the Sun, West of the Moon. East is probably my all-time favorite, by Edith Patou. I just didn't sympathize with Nyx. Her personality was too hot and cold to really get a read on her. But, the last chapter was really great, enough so that I wonder if maybe it wasn't the inspiration for the whole story. If the next book is like the last chapter, sign me up.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

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