Beauty and Cruelty by Meredith Katz

Beauty and Cruelty by Meredith Katz
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (218 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Cruelty, once an evil fairy and now working in fast food, comes home one day to find the lazy, drooling King of Cats on her doorstep. Worse, he comes bearing news Cruelty would be happier not hearing: Sleeping Beauty has gotten tired of lying around and is trying to save the world Cruelty left long ago.

Any respectable Archetype knows it’s a waste of time; their chances of survival are much better if they can hide in the human world. But since nobody sent her an invitation to the world-saving, she’s practically obligated to interfere.

The land where fairy tales exist is dying. Will Cruelty be able to save it?

Cruelty might have technically been a villain, but that couldn’t stop me from adoring her. Her personality was so well developed that I was able to predict how she’d react to virtually anything by the time I’d reached the midway point in the storyline, and I get so excited when that happens in a book. All of her choices made perfect sense as well given what I’d learned about who Cruelty was as an individual. Did I occasionally wince at the thought of certain decisions she made? Yes, but I never would have expected anything different from this character. Her tendency to be callous sometimes was as much a part of her personality as her intelligence or her uncanny ability to blend into her surroundings.

I will admit that it did take me some time to immerse myself in what was happening in the plot. The pacing was slower than normal in the beginning due to all of the information the main character needed to share with her audience about who she was, where she came from, and why she’d decided to emigrate to our universe. Sharing all of these details with the reader was necessary in order to understand what happened in later scenes, though, so I was grateful to have such a complete picture of everything up front. Once the pacing sped up, I was so glad I had stuck with it!

Ms. Katz’s whimsical writing style was not only a ton of fun to read, it was a perfect match for this story as well. The whole novel was full of quotable sentences that made me giggle. I wish I could fill every paragraph of this review with the humorous things the characters said and thought along the way, but I will restrict myself to only mentioning the one that amused me the most: “There was really no point in taking your anger out on cats. They were entirely resistant to curses, and they wouldn’t feel guilt if they didn’t deserve your rage.” The fact that every single chapter had several sentences like this one that I simply had to highlight and remember for later has made me an instant fan of this writer. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Beauty and Cruelty was a fairy tale for the twenty-first century. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who loves this genre as much as I do.

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