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.
Three stars: A book with an imaginative story line that suffers from a slow pace and practically no resemblance to Red Riding Hood.
Rachelle tugs her red cloak closer. It is late and dark, and she wants nothing more than to grab a cup of hot coffee at a local coffee house. Once she enters, Rachelle is immediately accosted with stares and hostility. Rachelle is no longer an ordinary human, she is now a Bloodbound, one who fights off the evil Forestborn, creatures of the forest who harm humans. Before Rachelle can get settled, a flock of evil Forestborns attack the shop, and Rachelle is forced into action. Luckily, her fellow Bloodbound, Erec is there to assist her. Once all the foes are vanished, Erec informs her that the King wishes to see her tomorrow. The king assigns Rachelle to protect one of his illegitimate heirs, and Rachelle has no choice but to acquiesce. Rachelle is furious that she must watch over Armand the imbecile because she fears the world is about to be swallowed by the legendary Devourer. Rachelle may be the only one to stop it. Can Rachelle protect her charge and save the world?
What I Liked:
- Ms. Hodge has proven once again that she has an amazing talent for creativity and imaginative story telling. I loved her intricate world and her ingenious blending of old legend with modern events. I was hooked by the story of the Devourer, and I eagerly looked forward to gleaning more information from each of the chapter snippets that centered around this long ago story. Even though I felt that it barely resembled Red Riding Hood, I was impressed by Ms. Hodge's lovely writing and originality.
- Rachelle is a unique heroine. She isn't easy to like as she doesn't even like herself. Once Rachelle became a Bloodbound, she felt she lost her soul and any chance at redemption. These days, she survives to save the world from the return of the Devourer and from the Forestborn who are hell bent on hunting down humans. Even though Rachelle spends a great deal of time wallowing in self loathing, I had to admire her courage, tenacity and willingness to sacrifice everything to save the world. She also happens to be fierce and kick butt. I ended up liking her.
- The story is complex and interesting. As I mentioned, I was enchanted by the revelation of the old legend of the Devourer, a monster who once swallowed the sun and the moon and plunged the world into darkness. As the book progresses, there are small snippets that slowly reveal how the Devourer was once destroyed. It isn't a pretty tale, but I was intrigued none the less. I guess you can liken the Devourer to the big bad wolf as there isn't a true wolf in the story. Things pick up dramatically at the end, and there are a couple of stunning twists and developments that I honestly didn't see coming. I appreciated that the book culminated with a great finish. No cliffhanger or unanswered questions.
- The writing is lovely and engaging. I am once again not only was I impressed with Ms. Hodge's story telling as well as her creativity and attention to detail.
And The Not So Much:
- Sigh.... I really really wanted to love this one but I struggled with an erratic pace. I had the same problem with Ms. Hodge's first novel Cruel Beauty. Sometimes I was locked in and engaged in the story, and then at other times I dialed out because the pace slowed to a crawl. What kept me going was that I longed to know the rest of the story of the Devourer. Luckily, the ending is fast, furious and well worth the effort to get there.
- This is being marketed as a retelling of Red Riding Hood. If you are going in expecting a young girl outwitting a wolf, you will be disappointed. This book is not Red Riding Hood at all. While I can see how one can infer and make references, it bears really no resemblance to the original.
- The romance is a mess. It is sort of a love triangle but it isn't a true triangle. I think the romance doesn't work because Rachelle doesn't even love herself, so she isn't really capable of loving someone else. She finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with someone (which felt more like insta love to me), and then things fall apart. So in a moment of self loathing, she gives in and becomes the lover to the one who has been pursuing her for the whole book. It is nothing but lust and sex. The actual romance didn't grab me and make me feel, again because the problem stemmed from Rachelle. One can't truly love another unless they love themselves first.
- I was frustrated that important events in the past were glossed over. I wanted to know more about Rachelle's transformation into a Bloodbound and her eventual formation of a friendship with Erec. I felt like I was missing some important parts of the story especially in regards to what happened to Rachelle right after she became a Bloodbound.
- Crimson Bound is being marketed as a YA book, but I don't understand why. First of all, there is nothing that is YA about this. The main character is eighteen years old. The story line is complex and it refrains from the ridiculousness of YA. There is nothing that is inappropriate for YA, but I think this is best suited for mature teens and adults as the target audience.
Crimson Bound was a book I wanted desperately to love because I appreciate the author's amazing creativity, lovely writing and intriguing story lines, but I felt the book faltered with an uneven pace, an unpleasing romance and it wasn't anything at all like Red Riding Hood. If you are looking for a fairy tale retelling, this is not one for you, but if you want to take a chance on an ingenious story and you have patience give Crimson Bound a try. I liked many things about this book, but at this point, I think it is a case of it's not you, it's me with this book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.