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Monday, February 10, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

High School Fiction

VG/A. Hodge, Rosamund. Cruel Beauty. Balzer + Bray, 2014.  346p. 978-0-06-222473-6. $17.99.

Ever since her father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord for his wife to have children, Nyx has been promised as his wife when she comes of age at seventeen.  They say that the Gentle Lord is a prince of demons, who sends his demons to attack the villagers and to drive them mad. He is an immortal with magical powers, but anyone foolhardy enough to bargain with the Gentle Lord always pays a heavy price. The Gentle Lord certainly keeps his word, but he always cheats at his bargains. 

Long ago, a curse was placed on Arcadia, and for the last nine hundred years, the island has been sundered from the rest of the world, trapped in a void where they can no longer see the real sky.  Told to be the hope of her people, Nyx is committed to doing her duty - marrying the Gentle Lord and destroying him in order to avenge her dead mother and to save her kingdom.  She knows that her failure or even her success could very well mean her death.  She resents her father for not trying to save her and her twin sister for not taking her place, but she willingly goes through with the wedding ceremony. 

The Gentle Lord has given her a bargain of her own.  Every night, she is given a chance to guess his name. If she guesses correctly, she'll be granted her freedom, but if she guesses incorrectly, she'll die.

Her husband, Ignifex, is not what she expected. Nor is Shade, his shadow.  Trapped in ruined castle with labyrinthine staircases and strange doors leading to magical and dangerous secret rooms, Nyx must work to uncover his secrets. The more she learns of her husband, the more she is drawn to him and finds herself falling in love with him.  Will Nyx keep her word to destroy the Gentle Lord or will she chose the man she loves over the fate of all others?  An intriguing tale, Cruel Beauty certainly stands out among other Beauty and the Beast retellings. 

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