Monday, August 25, 2014

Audiobook Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

From Goodreads:
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
If this sounds like a familiar story, that's because it is - it's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with both fantastical elements and an ancient Rome-influenced setting.

Writing
Well done.  I was concerned that any story based on Beauty and the Beast would be heavily influenced by Disney's version, and I didn't find that to be the case at all.  I feel like Hodge took the classic fairy tale and created her own unique version with new characters.  I really enjoyed the Roman influence on the story as well.  There's nothing particularly spectacular in terms of the language or choice of words, but the originality was a highlight for me.  I think Hodge succeeded in making something new and unique in the world of YA fantasy.

Entertainment Value
It took me a while to get into this one.  While I thought the characters were refreshing and original, I didn't really start to care about them until about halfway into the book.  I wasn't grabbed from the first page, but I am glad I stuck it out.  It definitely fits into the category of diversionary reading, but it was a fun diversion.

Narration
Perfect.  I really enjoyed listening to this one and think the narrator did a fantastic job.

Overall
It's a fun read and I recommend it, particularly on audio, as something you can listen to while you exercise or clean, but that isn't terribly taxing on the mind.  It's easy to follow and fun - brain candy.  The elements of ancient Rome add a lot to the story and could provide a fun jumping off point for some study of mythology.

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