Nyx’s world is wrong. The island of Arcadia has been supernaturally isolated from the rest of the known world, the sky is not real, ravenous demons live in the shadows, and Nyx herself is to be a sacrifice to Ignifex, the Gentle Lord — the monster whose power imprisons her people. Her life and future the price for a father’s selfish and short-sighted bargain, Nyx has known since childhood that she will one day marry Ignifex… whom she will then betray and kill in order to break the enchantment and free her island.
“Lovely” but not exactly “pure of heart,”1 Nyx makes for a great heroine as she’s torn between doing her duty — killing her new husband and saving her people – or surrendering to her darker urges – the anger, resentment and vengeful feelings that have long- festered as a result of growing up unloved and being stripped of her choices. But now, out from under her father’s controlling thumb, she has the ability to make her own decisions and her constant struggle between her conscience and her desire for retribution is possibly my favorite part of the novel.
Ignifex is an equally fascinating character. Master of Demons, trickster, jailer, murderer, there’s so much about Ignifex that is and should be repellant. And yet, there’s something almost… charming about him. Cruel, yet kind. Terrifying, yet humorous. Intimidating, yet vulnerable. Ignifex is complex and contradictory. Not in a ridiculously-inconsistent-hot-‘n-cold sort of way, but more in a way that strangely makes sense while it really doesn’t. Intrigued? Anyway he’s, as I previously stated, absolutely fascinating.
Also fascinating? Hodge’s world. It’s a surreal, unsettling, yet utterly enticing dreamscape, brilliantly brought to life, and brimming with magic, mystery, and danger. It’s gorgeously imagined and well-rendered.
Actually, the whole novel is gorgeously imagined and well-rendered. Drawing from fairy tales and Greek mythology with touches of pagan and fey-inspired influences, Hodge puts her own intriguing spin on the Persephone/Beauty and the Beast tale resulting in an edgy, thrilling, suspenseful, darkly romantic, thoroughly captivating mash-up rife with conflict and deeply flawed, magnetic characters. And as Nyx navigates and wars with obstacles both internal and external — unraveling the mysteries of the Gentle Lord while also unraveling the mystery of who she herself is and who she wants to be – I just couldn’t put this book down.
Overall. A deliciously dark and bewitching page-turner.
1 Wikipedia (Article: Beauty and the Beast)