By Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
POV: Third Person Limited (Rachelle)
Cover Love: The spiral with the red cape is gorgeous. It combines the retelling and Hodge’s new world effortlessly.
My Rating: 4/5
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.
Damn. This book is FREAKING IMPRESSIVE. It’s so so so so SO good!! I loved it from beginning to end. The story was captivating and enticing. This is like no other book I’ve read. Hodge spun a unique twist on the classic story, Little Red Riding Hood.
First, I want to compliment on this book’s cover. It is absolutely gorgeous and it hints at the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, hence the girl wearing the symbolic red hood. It resembles Hodge’s other book “Cruel Beauty” which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I thought that meant it was part of a series but apparently “Crimson Bound” is a standalone novel (Which sucks).
The cover is not the only thing that is gorgeous, so is the storytelling. I love my fairy tale retellings. I’ve read Entwined by Heather Dixon, a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses, and the Princesses of Westfalin trilogy by Jessica Day George, which are the retellings of the 12 Dancing Princesses, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. I love how each author creates new concepts from those popular tales and I love critiquing about that imagination.
Having already read a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, I was in for a special treat. You could tell Crimson Bound was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood but it’s an original story all on its own. That’s what makes fairy tale retellings so enchanting. Crimson Bound brought a dark, twisty aspect to the fairy tale. The action never stopped until the very end. The progress of action was like: bam, bam, bam. The story kept building and building from each one and especially near the end, it was like plot twist after plot twist after plot twist. It was euphoric! I haven’t read a book that never stopped in jaw-dropping moments in a long time. Hodge will put you through a series of emotions ranging from anger, love, suspicion, and more!
Now, the world that Hodge created is complex, and intricate, with a touch of magic. Rachelle lives during a time where what she is shunned. Everyone fears the bloodbound because they will become the forestborn, but also because they are ruthless killers to the King. The Great Forest is feared by everyone as it will consume the world someday and it is everywhere. Only the bloodbound and the forestborn can see the woods.
Now, pause for a sec. What the heck did I just say about blood being bound, and forests giving birth, and a great forest is not a proper noun?! Here’s a list of words you must know when reading this book…interpreted by yours truly of course. 😉
Great Forest – What controls the Forestborn. It’s nature and the woods. Bad and scary.
The Devourer – The King of the Great Forest. It cannot be explained, or seen physically. Evil.
Forestborn – The “children” of the Devourer. They have no soul or heart. Driven by murder and hate.
Bloodbound – Those marked by Forestborn, who then later become Forestborn once they succumb to the hate. Once marked by Forestborn they must kill in 3 days or they die. It’s very hard to resist the urge to kill. Most serve the King to slow down the process of turning into a Forestborn. Rachelle is a bloodbound.
Endless Night – Time when the Devourer rises again. All with be covered in darkness forever. Technically the end of the world.
Now that’s over with let’s get to the awesome themes and messages underlined in this novel: savagery vs civilization, innocence vs corruption, redemption vs damnation, blood vs duty, love vs lust, and right vs wrong. Hodge explored the consequences of faith and sacrifice, with the prominent opposing sides: those who follow the King, those who follow the Bishop, and those who follow the saint (Armand). I love that internal wink I give myself when I identified these devices because what’s reading without psychoanalyzing everything?
Now the many different personalities of the characters suited this world, giving the story depth. Rachelle is a hard-headed character who despises who she is. She doesn’t want to become a forestborn, so before she becomes one, she will do as much good as she can. This leads her to try to take down the Devourer as a opportunity of redemption.
On the other hand, Erec, a bloodbound who is the captain of the King’s army and Rachelle’s friend (they kinda have a flirtationship and are friends with benefits), loves who he is. He believes that being a forestborn is an advantage as they’re immortal, have super strength and agility, enhanced senses and have the power of the Great Forest. That’s why that make great soldiers and assassins. Erec tries to get Rachelle to see that but she cannot understand what he sees in the Forest.
Another character is Armand, who had crossed paths with a forestborn but hadn’t turned into a bloodbound. As a result of this, he is seen as a saint because he survived. He is the bastard child of the King. Armand develops a romantic connection with Rachelle. He is the rational and intellectual aspect of the novel, which brings a psychological viewpoint on how being a forestborn is like ignoring all civilized instinct. (This reminded me of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.)
Rachelle’s relationships with Armand and Erec were an important part in the story but the romance took a backseat in this story which I am completely okay with. It was refreshing to read something different. The main focus was Rachelle and her desire to destroy the Devourer.
I recommend this books to fans of fairy tale retellings and YA fantasy. I imagine those who have read Hodge’s other books will also enjoy this novel.
Hodge pulled every trick from the hat of YA writing. This book is the epitome of perfect storytelling that sucks every reader in from the first page.
Keep calm and read on,