I’ve read a couple of Beauty and the Beast retellings, but Cruel Beauty still manages to stand out. I’m a big Greek/Roman mythology nerd, so that aspect of the book really appealed to me. The basic premise is this: Nyx’s father bargained with the Gentle Lord, the prince of demons, so that he and his wife could have two daughters. The price was one of his daughters once she turned seventeen. Nyx’s father accepted.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a few annoying trends for female characters, specifically in YA. One is the whole “tougher than the boys” character. She fights, she swears, she’s probably got the lockdown on her emotions. But hey, what did you expect from a tough girl? The problem here is that being more traditionally masculine doesn’t make you strong. Femininity isn’t weak. But that’s not what I really want to write about today, so if you’re interested in that, check out this awesome blog post from Kaitlin over at Ink and Quills.
Today, I’m focusing on the problematic other side to these characters. They’re so painted as strong and competent, but when it comes down to the wire, they end up needing to be saved.
Serafina lives in the basement of the Biltmore with her Pa, who keeps the Biltmore’s machines up and running. Her entire existence is a secret from the “folks upstairs”, for fear they’ll be thrown out if anyone found out. It’s not so bad, though: Serafina naps all day in the sunshine, then prowls the halls at night as the Biltmore’s Chief Rat Catcher. One night, though, she witnesses a sinister man in a black cloak snatch away a young girl. Desperate to know who he is, and to prevent future disappearances, Serafina teams up with Braeden Vanderbilt (one of the aforementioned “folks upstairs”) to track down and stop the man in the black cloak.