Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a dark and complex retelling of Beauty and the Beast/Cupid and Psyche.
father made a deal with the prince of demons, and now the time has come
for that deal to be kept. Nyx will wed the Gentle Lord and live with
him in his castle until she dies, in return for protection for the land
and the life of her lovely twin sister. Nyx has known of her fate for
most of her life -- and the bitterness and resentment that has built up
within her has not been assuaged by the training her father has given
her that may allow her to defeat the Gentle Lord and bring his reign to
an end. She will take on the role of obedient wife, all the while
searching the castle for the four "hermetic hearts" that hold the castle
together. Nyx knows her duty -- but what she does not expect is the
attraction she feels for her husband, the way the bitterness and malice
within her seem to call out to the darkness and sarcasm in him.
in mythology and legend, this story hearkens back to the Cupid and
Psyche myth that is the root of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.
Elements of both make this the strongest Beauty and the Beast retelling I
have read in quite some time. All of the characters are complex and
thought-provoking, none entirely evil or entirely good. While I love a
traditional Beauty and the Beast retelling where Beauty's purity of
heart enables her to save the day, I found this version fascinating.
Readers who enjoy classical mythology, complicated characterization, and
new takes on traditional stories should certainly give this book a try.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)