By: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Print ARC
A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
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 was really excited to see a retelling/retake on Little Red Riding Hood and I’ll tell you…the prologue to Crimson Bound was spectacular. I was immediately swept away and fell in love. We experience Rachelle’s life as a 15 year old- bold, and as the summary says, reckless. It was an incredibly powerful start to the book and I couldn’t wait to see where the story would go next.
The first chapter picks up with Rachelle being much older, guilt ridden and horrified by her choices. It was a bit of an adjustment for me since three years had passed but after a few chapters I was entranced with the world Hodge has created. I think the reason it took me a few chapters to really get into the story after the prologue was because the world was a tad complicated and it took me some pages to get the characters straight. Once this was achieved I was very interested in the story progression. As with her debut, Cruel Beauty, the writing was beautifully done. Some of the pacing felt uneven to me with some sections dragging just the slightest bit but not enough to really detract from my reading experience.
I had never heard of The Girl Without Hands which was an inspiration for this book. After some googling I was impressed with how Hodge was able to combine both this tale as well as Red Riding Hood.
I enjoyed Rachelle’s character and felt that she was well constructed and a very interesting character to follow. Hodge does an excellent job in this book as well as her debut with creating really complex characters that are incredibly well rounded.
I love unexpected allies and enemies having to work together so this aspect from the summary was a selling point for sure. I wasn’t 100% sold on Rachelle really hating Armand but it was still fun to read about them having to team up and learn to trust each other or not.
One of the most interesting characters was Erec, Rachelle’s mentor of sorts. I loved the complexity of his character and my inability to ever really like him but to completely understand why Rachelle was drawn to him in some ways. I enjoy a character that has me guessing at their motivations.
My biggest issue with Crimson Bound was some of the dialog between characters. I would love to show examples but most of it was very centered on things that progressed the plot so I’ll not quote it here but a lot of it was really cheesy for me. I felt nothing with declarations of love and really a lot of the pivotal character interactions fell flat. I was reading the advanced reader copy so I’m really hoping that some of it is fixed before the final printing. It felt more like filler lines than finished dialog.
I really love how creative, vivid and imaginative Crimson Bound was. If you are expecting a retelling don’t- look for Red Riding Hood and The Girl Without Hands as inspiration for the story. It might be fun to brush up on both tales prior to reading so you can catch references here and there. My biggest complaint was that the dialog was weak in many important places which really hurt my emotional connection to story events.