I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.
This is a really nice novella, and is part of Erica Crouch’s “Ignite” series. It’s listed as part 1.5 in the series, but it’s actually a prequel to the events in Ignite, so I read it first. Whether that will have an impact on how I perceive the next book (which is Ignite) I don’t know yet – but I do know that I’m quite eager to keep going with the series.
The story opens with a battle scene from the war between Heaven’s angels and the angels who fell with Lucifer. It is told from the perspective of Penemuel (but don’t call her that – just call her Pen) who choose to fall at the urging of her twin brother Azael, and is somewhat conflicted over her decision. Azael has no problem bowing to and “yes sir”-ing Lucifer – he’s a true believer in Lucifer’s cause, but Pen is more defiant, something that doesn’t go over too well with her new boss. This leads to a retelling of the story of the Fall of Mankind in the Garden of Eden.
Crouch’s version is original, even as it retains all of the traditional elements of the Biblical story, and the rest of the tale is quite well done. Crouch truly has a way with words and I found myself highlighting several phrases just because I really liked the way she put something. Even though this is a novella, she still manages to give us a good look at what the universe the story takes place in looks like as well as some excellent character building. The only thing keeping me from giving the book 5 stars is that there ars couple of apparent tips – one in particular that resulted in my spending about ten minutes trying to figure out what it was supposed to mean. Given that the book took only about 3 hours to read, having to take that kind of time to puzzle out a sentence made it just that much more irritating that a single typo like that would be in a longer book.
All-in-all, though, this is definitely a book worth checking out!
This is a truly amazing book. While it’s an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, it’s unlike any other adaptations of that story I’ve read. What really made me fall in love with the story is that it went beyond the idea that she just had to see beyond his beastliness to set things right, and it does so in an unexpected way. Add a few surprising turns and you have a tale that honors its source material while being an original in its own right.
The writing is very lush, making the world vivid and almost tactile, and the characters are complex. It takes a certain skill to write a book where the majority of the story only involves three characters and not have it feel like a large, empty house. Because the cast is small, there’s room to let the characters breathe and grow – and the relationship blossom – at a nicely measured pace.
This is the first book in a new fictional universe, which will feature additional retelling of fairy tale classics. Already, a novella – Gilded Ashes, a retake on Cinderella – has been published, and it shares many of the strengths that Cruel Beauty possesses, so the series shows some promise off being one to keep an eye on.