Cruel Beauty was a surprising read - and it was little to nothing like I expected. I was expecting twisted fairytales, but I never went so far as to throw demons and alternate universes and ghosts and Greek mythology into the mix, that's for sure. I never saw any of those things coming, and it was a tad bit shocking, to tell you the truth! But I still enjoyed the story.
The main character, Nyx, was kind of fun to pick apart. Her personality is definitely not rainbows an puppies! Actually, I'm going to say that about 90% of her personality is resentment and hatred. And for the first half of the book, that's all there really was to her. I'm glad that she grew as a person, because I doubt that I could have handled that for the entire book. When she fell in love with Ignifex, it was kind of like she became a different person, just a little. She still had her anger and resentment, but it wasn't nearly as strong - and now she has love and forgiveness and other emotions! She becomes compassionate.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Ignifex - who has no moral compass to speak of. I mean, it's not his fault - but I think it never occurs to him that some of the things he does are wrong. He's very childlike in that way, and he's also extremely trusting. He may be a merciless king, but I don't think it's entirely his fault.
The romance was a bit on the insta side, but it wasn't too bad. It was what you would expect from a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Nyx hates Ignifex for a while, but she falls in love with him pretty quickly once they've talked once or twice.
I have to say, the most surprising part of Cruel Beauty was the sheer number of twists that it employed! We have the Kindly Ones from Greek mythology, a shade (that has more meaning later), a castle full of demons and the world inside a castle. Not to mention the alternative universe! I had no idea how this could possibly have a happy ending, but it was pretty good, even if it was nothing like the retellings I'm used to.