Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: No series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: May 5th, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
The summary of Crimson Bound from Goodreads:
When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.
Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?
Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.
I think fairy tale inspirations could go either way. I grew up on Disney and fairy tales, so they’ve got a special place in my world. Little Red Riding Hood fascinated me. As someone who loves her grandmother, I couldn’t understand (as a child) how a granddaughter could not notice that her grandmother was a wolf. That never made sense to me. I wasn’t really sure how this inspiration would turn out, whether the deception would be seemingly obvious (like in the fair tale), or if it would be more complex and unknown.
It was a little bit of both. I had a hunch on a few of the twists, but at the same time, it was so well done that I didn’t mind. When truths were revealed, I din’t mind that I had figured them out. The characters and story were so well-written that even when I figured something out early, when it was revealed my breath still caught.
Rachelle is a fantastic character. She was tempted as a child and has spent her time since then trying to prove that moment of weakness does not have to define her for the rest of her life. She struggles, though, because she feels as though she is damned, yet she tries to do as much good as she can, while she can. She’s not trying to do it to save herself; she’s trying to make the world better because she views her presence in it as making the world worse. I absolutely loved seeing her grow and learn new things about herself. She’s not looking to be saved and that means she’s fighting for something greater than herself. I loved her and felt so many emotions around her life and choices.
The other characters are just as wonderful. Amélie, Rachelle’s friend, represents the good in people. She sees the other side of Rachelle. Where Rachelle sees only her past and her evil side, Amélie sees the good in her. She sees that Rachelle wants only to save people, and not give in to the evil side of her. Amélie knows that Rachelle is more than just a bloodbound and she tries to make Rachelle see the good.
The two male characters, Erec and Armand, were interesting as well. Erec has all the confidence of someone who knows he is good looking, knows he has power, and knows how to use all of that to his advantage. Armand is more of a mystery. His past isn’t really well known, although a story about him is widely circulated. He doesn’t seem to fit the typical personality of someone in a king’s court. He does what he must to make others happy, but he has a silent power.
My only real problem with the story was with the development of “love” between two of the characters. I really enjoyed their relationship, but that first confession of love just felt out of place. They went from barely tolerating each other, to working together, to suddenly love. It just felt a little out of place at the moment when it happened. I could easily believe it, but I felt like it was just a touch rushed.
If you want a close retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, this isn’t going to be the book for you. But it does take some inspiration from the fairy tale, but then creates an entire world and story to go along with it. I loved the book and think people who enjoy dark fairy tales would really enjoy this book.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.