[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss.]
Hmm, not sure about this one. It’s a retelling of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, in a city that is the last one standing while the rest of the world has been invaded by ‘zombies’, where three families share the power, and where the religious order of the Sisters of Thorn has to perform yearly blood sacrifices in order to keep the undead at bay. It has a mysterious plague that makes people rise again after their death if precautions aren’t taken, and in that city, ‘the Juliet’ is actually a warrior bred from birth through magic rituals, with the ability to sense if someone has shed her family’s blood, and the compulsion to avenge said family member in turn (in other words, she still does a few other things than feigning death, thinking Romeo is dead, and promptly killing herself in turn). Also, she’s doomed to turn mad at some point
All in all, why not? This was interesting. The story itself, though, was kind of confusing, and although it did end up making sense, there were quite a few things I would’ve seen developed more in depth. Such as the Night Games, or the Necromancer (who kind of turned up at the awkward moment), or the Romeo/Paris/Vai trio relationship.
I’m not sure about the characters. I sort of liked the Juliet? Because she had that idea that ‘I’m already dead, and Romeo is dead, so I don’t care about dying because it means I can see him again’, yet at the same time she was quite lively and determined and not actively trying to take her own life while moping; her story is also rather sad (stripped of her name/real identity in a family whose beliefs in the afterlife involve having a name in order to be saved... nice). Romeo, though, was kind of stupid, and Paris way too naive; of the power trio there, the one I definitely liked was Vai (with a twist that was a bit predictable, but eh, he was fun to read about, and I totally agreed with the way he envisioned problems and how to tackle them!). As for Runajo... I don’t know. Determined, too, yet there were several moments when I thought her decisions should have her get killed or cast out or something, and she wasn’t because Plot Device.
(And very, very minor thing that probably only peeved me because I’m French, but... ‘Catresou’ sounds just so damn weird. I kept reading and ‘hearing’ that name as a French name, which sounds exactly like ‘quatre sous’—that’s like ‘four pence’—aaaand... Yep, so bizarre.)
Conclusion: 2.5 stars. To be fair, I liked the world depicted here in general, and that this retelling is sufficiently removed from R & J as to stand by itself; however, it was probably too ambitious for one volume, and ended up confusing.
Narration 4 stars
Book 1.4 stars
Major negative for me: rehashing details over and over.
The MC has some seriously crazy personality disorder going on. I love him, no I hate him, no I love that one, no I hate that one, I will never betray him, oh I need to betray him, I love my sister, I hate my sister, hate/love flick flick flick flick the dark lord is my enemy, love, enemy , love.... Her failing poetic inner dialog ramblings rehashed over and over Omg save me from this woman ! AUGGHHHHHHH.......AGRUHHHHHHHHHHHHH ! (phew) That felt good. It's amazing what running down the street screaming at the top of your lungs will do will a soul. I know there are many who enjoyed this but this MC hit almost every one of my "oh hell no" buttons.
I didn't like it at all. I had hope early on but found too many of my pet peeves to find a happy place. This is not the author for me obviously.
Now that I’m familiar with the gods and goddesses that are in this world, I can say that I get to appreciate the story better than the first. Everything about this book is likable to me. The plot is interesting, well Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tales so there’s no doubt that I enjoyed this book. Then, add the creepiness of Maia’s mother with demonic spirit is another thumbs up for me. The characters, Maia and Anax are such a cute couple, yes they aren’t unique but there’s something about them that worked for me. Also the author’s writing style which I had a hard time adjusting the first time reading Ms Hodge’s book “Cruel Beauty” didn’t overwhelmed me this time.
This novella is a wonderful spin-off to the first book “Cruel Beauty”, so if you wanted to know more about this particular world and can’t get enough of reading dark fairy tales retelling, I definitely recommend you to read this too.
This one is a unique read for me. I haven’t read anything like it. Apart from the beginning where it gave me the same feels I had with “The Wrath and the Dawn” and of course “Beauty and the Beast”, the rest of the story was quite a unique plot for me. I appreciated that it kept me guessing on what would happen next.
Though the “seduce the enemy and get his trust” trope makes me roll my eyes, gag and cringe, it wasn’t really the case in this book so if that bothers you do not fret.
I could really see where Nyx hatred to her father came from, dang I myself hated him until the last page, and her Aunt Telomache annoyed me too, grrrr. I could also understand her guilt on how she felt for her twin sister Astraia, to me that was believable. Ignifex, I mean he was supposed to be a demon but aside from doing (cheating) bargains with other people to me it felt as if he wasn’t cruel enough.
That cover though, is so pretty. It was one of the reasons why I picked this up (Yup. I’m a sucker for pretty book covers). I couldn’t see the relevance of the title “Cruel Beauty” in the story (Someone please enlighten me). The writing sometimes overwhelms me, maybe because I’m not well-versed of the gods and goddesses that played a huge part in this book. So I suppose those who are like me (ignorant about gods and goddesses) would also feel the same way as I felt with this book.
Despite some of my issues with this book, I still ended up liking the story. This book was a bit dark but unique and unpredictable, plus a cute love story with it. If these things I mentioned appeals to you, then do yourselves a favor and read this!
Actual rating: 3.9/5 stars
#How was I able to graduate high school without knowing much about Greek and Roman gods and goddesses? I have no idea
#Or maybe I was asleep when my teacher lectured this in my class