Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)

Cruel Beauty is a re-skinning of Beauty and the Beast, told in a weird, fantastic world with strong influences from ancient Greece and Rome. Among the retold fairy tales that I’ve read, it’s among the best of them and manages to feel reasonably like the inspiration story while adding a good number of weird twists and beautiful imagery on top of it.

Honestly, the strongest part of the story for me was the world. It seems that a chunk of reality was torn from what could have been our world and set aside, with a sky that looks like parchment and demons that literally roam the land, making deals. There’s a castle chock full of magical rooms and artifacts that are all sorts of cool, even when they’re just used as background for a single scene. It’s the sort of world I would absolutely love to explore in a more freeform style (virtual reality?) someday and the author does an excellent job of bringing it all to life and making it feel real.