Cruel Beauty

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe 1/2

Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 28th, 2014

You may have read one or two (or ten) retellings of Beauty and the Beast, but chances are you haven’t read one quite like this. Cruel Beauty’s fresh take on this classic tale was unexpected, captivating, and at times downright twisted. Here’s how it goes:

Seventeen-year-old Nyx had been groomed from birth to grow up to be the wife of a monster – a demon – because of a bargain made by her father in desperation. But when she finally fulfills her destiny and marries the Gentle Lord, she gets more than anyone bargained for. Her plan to break the curse he has held over her people for nine hundred years proves to be more difficult than she ever could have imagined, especially when she begins to think he might not be as much of a monster as she had always assumed him to be.

As more and more secrets are brought to life, Nyx uncovers the hold her demon lord husband has over the last prince of her people from long ago, but she cannot deny the hold he has over her. In a realization that there is darkness in every heart, not just the heart of a demon, she makes a sacrifice of her own heart for the sake of her people – a sacrifice that could turn out to be the key to the undoing of an age-old curse.

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Title: Ever
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 6th, 2008

Kezi is a beautiful dancer, a skilled rug weaver – and a mortal. And because of a vow her father made to their god in desperation, she only has 30 days to live. To make her life even more complicated, she falls in love – with an immortal god. Olus, the god of winds, believes that he can help Kezi escape her impending fate; together, they risk everything to find a way to be together, and to save Kezi before she must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Told in a style different than the rest of her fairytales, Ever switches back and forth from Kezi’s to Olus’ point of view, giving us an enriched understanding of both characters. Levine’s Mesopotamian setting is also a step away from her usual fairytales, and gravitates more toward ancient mythology. I find it fascinating that Ever was inspired by the Old Testament story of Jephthah and his daughter, found in Judges 11:30-40. This was a fun read, especially if you are already a fan of Gail Carson Levine.

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