If you want a YA book with demon lovers, fairy tale-Greek mythology mashups, wicked heroines, a castle full of shadowy secrets, and a passionate romance that begins with a murder attempt, look no further.
Rosamund Hodge’s debut YA novel Cruel Beauty is a no-holds-barred fantasy that freely and irreverently borrows from Greek myths like the story of Pandora’s box and fairy tales like “Beauty and the Beast.”
Nyx is the unfortunate bride who is fated to marry Ignifex AKA Prince of Demons AKA the Gentle Lord. She has serious family issues, since her father was the one who bargained her freedom away even before she was born. Kicker? Her father chose to marry her off rather than her twin sister. Naturally, Nyx can’t help but feel some hatred towards her father and sister and then guilt over hating them, and then back to just hating them. If that isn’t serious inner turmoil, I don’t know what is.
Nyx hates her husband because 1.) He’s a demon prince. 2. ) The first reason should suffice but the demon prince, or the Gentle Lord, as someone with a funny sense of humor dubbed him, also happens to hold the entire world of Arcadia captive. It is Nyx’s job, according to her father and his shadowy Illuminati-like cabal, to kill her husband and bring salvation and freedom to Arcadia.
Nyx falls in love with the Gentle Lord, effectively throwing a wrench into the “let’s murder my husband” plan. The chemistry between Nyx and the Gentle Lord creates one of the most pleasingly turbulent romances I have ever encountered on the written page. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise since Nyx is trapped in a castle with only the Gentle Lord for company and incidentally, the Gentle Lord is totally hot.
Of course, this is not a typical romance, with the couple exchanging swoony words such as, “I know it’s not a compliment, but I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart.” and “We’ll both be foolish [...] and vicious and cruel. We will never be safe with each other.” True love, right? The bad news is, Nyx, already conflicted with so many emotions, has to make a heart-rending choice: Betray her family or betray her love? You should stay up late reading Cruel Beauty and find out.
For more turbulent romances in fantasy settings, I recommend:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Lumatere Chronicles trilogy by Melina Marchetta comprised of:
Finnikin of the Rock Froi of the Exiles
Quintana of Charyn