Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cruel beauty

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

A stunningly inventive retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this debut novel turns the entire tale around over and over again.  Born into a world captured under a paper sky, Nyx has been promised as a bride to their demon ruler since she was born.  Her father promised tribute when he made a deal with the demon, so Nyx is to be sacrificed.  But her sacrifice is not to be without results, so she has been trained to kill her demon husband.  On her seventeenth birthday, she is sent to live with her new husband whom she has never met in his incredible castle.  She is not expecting to be beguiled by her new husband or by his silent shadow that serves him.  But once in the realm of her husband things are different, answers are not as clear, and even the questions shift and change just like the rooms and doors in the castle.  Nyx must figure out how she can save not only her family and her world but whether her newfound love can be saved too.

I was amazed when I discovered that this is a debut novel.  The writing has a polish and steadiness that would not lead one to believe that when reading.  Hodge has managed to take the foundation of the Beauty and the Beast storyline but then transform it, writing her own original world on top of it yet never quite leaving the original too far behind.  It is a critical balance in reworking familiar stories, and Hodge manages it admirably.  She turns it into something wilder, more frightening and just as beautiful.

Nyx is a wonderful protagonist.  I love how prickly she is, how feisty and fiery.  She can stand right up to a demon and match wits with him.  Yet she is also entirely human, torn by the fact her father chose to sacrifice her, awash with a mix of love and hate for her twin sister, and at times overcome with the situation she finds herself in.  Hodge allows these opposite forces to linger, building the tension and not resolving it until the end. 

Dramatic, romantic and completely beguiling, this retelling of Beauty and the Beast will get teen hearts racing even as the world twists and turns changing the story.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray.

2014 Great Graphic Novels

YALSA has announced their choices for Great Graphic Novels 2014.  Selected from 122 nominations, the list has 78 graphic novels for teens ages 12-18 that are that special mix of quality literature and teen appeal.

They also named a Top Ten:

16231347 Boxers & Saints Boxed Set 

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Dogs of War March (Book One) MIND MGMT, Vol. 1: The Manager

Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox

March: Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

MIND MGMT v. 1: The Manager by Matt Kindt

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Rust Volume 2: Secrets of the Cell Strobe Edge, Vol. 1 (Strobe Edge, #1)

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Rust v. 2: Secrets of the Cell by Royden Lepp

Strobe Edge v. 1-6 by Io Sakisaka

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel Will & Whit

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon McKay and Daniel Lafrance

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge