Published by Balzer & Bray on 5/5/15
My content rating: Mature YA (Characters have sex, though it's not shown; Some violence)
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.
(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)
Crimson Bound is a dark, gritty fairy tale, set in a world where darkness just may overcome the light. Fans of Cruel Beauty will not be disappointed in Hodge’s new book, which has the same dark tone and complex folklore (though the worlds and characters are not the same).
What I loved:
- Rich worldbuilding. Hodge certainly doesn’t skimp on the worldbuilding. She has a rich magical (and almost mythological) history for her world with very distinct elements such as the Devourer, who wants to spread darkness over the world. I loved the fantastical elements to this book – the literal knitting of spells, the progression from human to bloodbound to forestborn (and how that occurs), the creation of the weapons that were capable of defeating the Devourer – there were so many unique and elaborate elements to the folklore. And Hodge brought it all together beautifully.
- Beautiful writing. From the very beginning, I was captivated by Hodge’s lush storytelling. Even though the story was often dark and intense, the writing never felt heavy – it was often almost lyrical. Hodge has a gift for weaving dark and desolate circumstances using beautiful words.
- The struggle for good. Rachelle struggled to see herself as “good” after the choice that she made to become bloodbound – she sees no future for herself and has no sense of self-worth. I felt for her in this struggle, and I appreciated that the romance underscored this. Some people might call the romance in this book a love triangle, but I don’t think it really was. While Rachelle was definitely attracted to both Erec and Armand, only one of them interests her beyond that attraction. I thought that the juxtaposition of Rachelle’s darker, more carnal desires and her heart was displayed perfectly through the romance in the book and it reflected her struggle to stay human and not give in to the darker nature of the forestborn.
- Twists that took me by surprise. There were some twists in this book that really shocked me, and I loved them! The second half of the book was full of interesting surprises and some fantastic twists and turns. The suspense was high in this book – especially in the last quarter or so of the book – and I was never quite sure if the characters I had come to love were going to come out of the story alive!
- Slow read (but not slow moving). The only negative about this book is that it was a little bit of a slower read than is typical for me. It took me a while to get through this book – not because the pacing was slow, but just because it’s not the type of book you can zip through. The worldbuilding and the mythology in this book can sometimes be complicated, and the book takes your full attention. This is only a “sort of” negative for me – it means a slower read, but also, ultimately, a very satisfying read!
- Just barely a take on Red Riding Hood. This book was supposed to be inspired by Red Riding Hood, but it was very loosely inspired – I could see almost no connections, except for a couple of small ones at the very beginning. (There were also some whisperings of Hansel and Gretel inspirations in there, if I’m not mistaken). I feel like I need to go back and reread the original fairy tales, though, because I might be missing some of the references.
I so enjoyed this story! If you are a fan of darker fairy tales, I would definitely pick this book up! I give it 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. I write YA fantasy that draws on two of those things. My debut novel is CRUEL BEAUTY, a YA fairytale fantasy where Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast. My next novel is CRIMSON BOUND (5/5/15), where Little Red Riding Hood meets… many strange things.