In a previous post I already wrote about retellings, so novels that uses the main plot of other stories changing some elements in order to create something new.
In that same post I commented about a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”, a clearly awful one – from which an awful movie was inspired.
Also this post is about a retelling of that same story, but in this case the outcome is quite different (even if the Stockholm syndrome affects the protagonist maybe too soon).
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Astraia is a reign closed from the rest of the world due to unknown reasons happened hundred years ago from the story told in the novel, it is ruled by a demon – the Gentle Lord – with whom people may bargain their desires: Nyx father bargained the chance to have a son, he obtained two daughter, the death of his wife after childbirth and the promise to give one of his daughter as wife for the demon once she is seventeen years old.
The novel tells about Nyx, the daughter chosen to be the demon’s wife and the bearer of the mission to kill the cruel demon lord – that will soon appear very different from her expectations.
The characters are good; Nyx is not the usual good willed girl who accepts her fate for the sake of her people, this is only her mask, in truth she is full of hate: against her father, willing to get rid of her without any regret, against her hypocrite aunt and against her own sisters – so similar to their death mother – the not chosen one..
Ignifex, the Good Lord, is cryptic and charming and obliged by superior powers to allow his wife (Nyx is the ninth, the previous are all dead) the chance to guess his true name and to free him from his demoniac life.
The story is full of mysteries: during her stay in the castle Nyx will face half-truths, alive shadows and hints from the past: it will be difficult to choose what to believe and what to do (because the girl will soon fall in love with her husband, despite him being her enemy). The most of this turn of events are not trivial and are able to engage the reader in knowing what happens next.
The castle and its closed rooms are full of imaginative and unexpected elements and the worldbuild is interesting, also taking into consideration the use of greek myths (annoying in Red Rising) that are useful to the plot and not only folklorist
The only weak point is how fast Nyx falls in love with Shade and then Ignifex.
* Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge ★★★★☆
*I read this book in English