Thursday, July 17, 2014

Audio Book Review: Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge

While Cruel Beauty contains beautiful storytelling, the complexities of the mythology overwhelmed me a bit.

Nyx has always known she must marry the Dark Lord (the demon who has captured her world), leave her home and family, and fulfill her destiny to save her kingdom, Arcadia. She is determined to use the Hermetic Arts to kill the Dark Lord and release Arcadia from its spell.

What she finds in the castle with the Dark Lord is very different than what she anticipated.

The reader goes in knowing that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so the general story arc is understood. There are a lot of details that add a lot of interest. But....

I had a hard time following the story at times. Part of the problem is that I was listening to the audio version. I'm sure if I were reading Cruel Beauty I would have had to re-read certain sections to make things a bit clearer. It is well written, but there's just so much to keep track of.

I don't want to go into to many details, but there are details of how Arcadia got in the condition it is. There are a lot of rituals, folklore, and customs that are explained. The "hermetic arts" are an entire story on their own. Several myths are mentioned, including Pandora.  There are shadow children and Kindly Ones. I couldn't keep track of how it all fit together, and I'm still not sure how Nyx managed to end up where she did at the end of the book.

Because of my confusion, I missed a lot of details. I think that someday I need to read Cruel Beauty again, but honestly I'm not sure that will ever happen.

Even though the narrator (Elizabeth Knowledon) did a great job reading the book, I wouldn't recommend the audio version of  Cruel Beauty. Fans of fairy tale retellings will enjoy Cruel Beauty,but I would only recommend it to more sophisticated teen readers. It's not quick or easy, although it is very lyrical.

Published by Balzer + Bray, January 28, 2014 (Audio by HarperCollins and Blackstone)
Audio Book obtained from SYNC
352 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. I know a lot of people loved Cruel Beauty and it's one I plan to read some day but I'll keep in mind that the audio didn't work for you. I read a book earlier this year that had the same problem :(

  2. I enjoyed this one, but didn't love it, so I understand where you are coming from. The world-building was pretty complex, which I liked, but I did have to listen carefully to the audiobook to understand everything. I liked that the author did something very different with the Beauty and the Beast tale and if she write another fairy tale retelling I would like to try it out.

  3. I was somewhat ambivalent about this book so I wouldn't recommend the commitment needed to (re)read it.

  4. I started tonight with it, and so far, I have to say that I really like the approach. It's not your typical fairy tale-retelling setting, which is really a nice thing!
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