I deeply apologize for being absent for so long. I have had months full of classes, work, and light reading to keep the cold at bay. I am also anticipating attending grad school in the fall. So as a precaution against freaking out about the future, I have returned to reading retold fairy tales. My personal favorite is Beauty and the Beast and boy did Rosamund Hodge deliver!
Nyx has been plotting and training her entire life to wed and murder her future husband: Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, the demon that rules over the magically-contained island of Arcadia. Betrothed to this demon by the bargaining of her father, she has grown to despise her family that willingly offers her up as sacrifice to stop the rule of the beast and save their world. She is set in fulfilling her duty to seduce and murder her husband. However, she finds that Ignifex and his labyrinthine castle are not all as they appear. As she becomes drawn to her husband, can she still remain true to her duty to save the kingdom? Or is love more important than duty?
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Gems for Writers:
Classic Inspiration. Greek mythology bleeds throughout this beautiful retelling. The retelling of myths highlights the setting of isolated Arcadia. They are reworked into the culture and history of the island, a blend of Greek and Roman. The Day of the Dead is celebrated, ritual hymns and offering practiced, and legends re-enacted at festivals. Nyx and Ignifex reference myths often in a familiar way, like how my family will speak of film and book characters in relation to ourselves. The myths add a dynamic to the story that helps build the world.
Imagery & Setting. The castle that holds Nyx captive also captivates the reader. The labyrinth of rooms that defy physics illuminates the imagination and makes up the fabric of the immediate setting and reflects the twisting plot. Whenever I think of Beauty and the Beast, I immediately think of the library from the Disney film. I never really cared about the castle itself—just the library. However, now I want halls and halls of rooms that twist and turn. I want to walk on a ballroom made of water. I want a room of fields and gardens. I want a room that is a puzzle that I have to construct because floating puzzle pieces are now something that I never knew I needed!
I could, however, do without the room of demons.
Romantic Plotlines. This is one of the only Beauty and the Beast retellings that I have read that the beauty marries the beast right from the start. Their relationship is complicated, humorous, and—above all—dangerous. They both possess levels of cruelty and kindness, and the action between them ranges from flirtatious to knife-and-dagger fury. As the story unravels, Nyx and Ignifex become comfortable with each other. I enjoyed how the relationship between them played out, with its many ups and downs.
Suffice to say, this retelling was rich and satisfying in relationship-building and storytelling awesomeness. I love getting drawn into new worlds with believable characters whose quirks and flaws will make me come back to this story again. This one is definitely my new favorite!
Farewell for now, Beardies!
***Cruel Beauty (2014), by Rosamund Hodge, is published by and copyright HarperCollins. It is available in stores, online (see above), and from your local public library.