“Don’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.”
Synopsis: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the Gentle Lord, Ignifex, the evil and feared ruler of the land. Since birth, she has been training to kill him, planning and scheming to break the 900 year old curse he put on her people. But things are not as they seem as she arrives at his Castle. The Gentle Lord’s castle intrigues her, as does it’s owner. As she attempts to find answers to the secrets surrounding her, and discover a way to free her land from the curse, she is drawn to Ignifex and pulled into a decision that will change not only her kingdom, but her heart.
When I see the words, “Beauty and the Beast re-telling” I instantly want to read a book. When I see the words: “YA”, “fantasy” and “standalone” in the same book description, I want to read it even more. Let’s just say, I had a lot of hopeful expectations hanging on this book. It was wrapped up in so much promise… and it delivered!
The main character Nyx, was an interesting, refreshing viewpoint to read from. She wasn’t the character filled with love and kindness in her heart. And she wasn’t the character that could quickly overcome the streak of hatred inside her. She was a character who had been wronged, felt unloved, hated those she was supposed to love, and acknowledged that that was the way she would feel. Despite her training and plotting, she was no assassin and she wasn’t kick-ass brave and self-certain; I always love those kinds of main characters best.
The Gentle Lord, Ignifex, was attractive, mysterious and funny, and felt a bit like many other YA male love interests I’ve read. But you know what… it did not stop me from completely loving him! He has just the right formula of bad-guy and good-guy, and self-confidence and uncertainty that I love in a male love-interest. There’s a reason that formula is used so often: it works! His red cat-eyes, his missing shadow, and his aura of mystery made for such a great character counterpart to Nyx.
But as much as I love a character-driven story, the world was easily my favourite thing about this book. For a 350 page fantasy standalone, Rosamund Hodge really crafted an intricately detailed, and clear-to-imagine world. The Beauty and the Beast fairytale fantasy elements, combined with the mythology, and her own unique twists, made for a world that I felt I had both read before, and yet never before discovered. The world and the way it is unravelled and revealed is brilliant and beautiful, slow and delicate, much like the world itself. Although as far as fairytale re-tellings go, it really only had the faintest of similarities to the original Beauty and the Beast tale, with far more of the mythology and its own story driving it through. It could easily be forgotten as a retelling at all. Which isn’t actually a complaint. I loved that it was its own unique tale.
Overall, it was a beautifully dark, passionate, romantic and mysterious story, with a stunningly emotional ending that made me feel like I was reading a Laini Taylor book (which is high praise from me!). It got me out of a very long reading slump, and I would happily read it again in the future. It is not really heavy or serious, but it’s also not at all light and fluffy. It was just right for an easy, but exciting read, and I would recommend it to anyone needing a lift out of a reading slump, who likes a bit of fairytale and magic, and does not want the commitment of a series.