Book: CRIMSON BOUND by Rosamund Hodge
Genre: YA fantasy/fairytale retelling
USA Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Won this in a giveaway from The Hanging Garden.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommended?: Yes, especially if you love monsters and magic and girls who fight and believe despite everyone around them.
An exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, from the author of Cruel Beauty.
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 a vain effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as the two become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic . . . and a love that may be their undoing. Within a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?
I haven't read CRUEL BEAUTY yet, but I did a little research after I received this book, and it didn't seem like I needed to have read CRUEL BEAUTY in order to understand CRIMSON BOUND, so I went ahead and dove in. I had high hopes going into this book: I love Little Red Riding Hood retellings, I love creepy woods and monsters, and that cover is a killer, just gorgeous.
CRIMSON BOUND was a wonderful introduction to Hodge's writing. I loved a lot about this book, but my favorite things are Rachelle's characterization and the descriptions of the woods. Rachelle is angry and strong, violent, and fighting an inner darkness that she believes will destroy her and anyone she cares about someday. There's evil in her world, and it is coming for them, and even though those around her mock, she believes, and that belief is strong enough I believe too. In short, she's amazing, and I love her.
Hodge has an interesting writing style here. There's a lot of fairytale feel to it, which makes sense, but I had a hard time connecting with the world. I loved the world building, the lurking woods and the monsters within, what Rachelle was to be and what instead she became, but there's a dreamy quality to the tone that made me feel at a distance to the writing quite often. I struggled a little getting into the story, and any time I put the book down, I struggled a little when I picked it up again. However, the descriptions of the woods and of Rachelle's fighting were solid, and wonderful.
I wish there were more female characters being awesome, and more of a specific female friendship in particular. I wish it was bloodier, darker; I love horror, though, and have a high tolerance for this type of violence non-sexual violence), and pretty much always want bloodier, darker, scarier. There were times the story felt stretched out, slowed down, in ways that didn't always work for me, generally when the romance plots took the lead. I wanted so much more from the shadow forest and its citizens, the creepiness as it lurked just out of sight, and the horrors that could unfold.
Overall, though, I enjoyed CRIMSON BOUND. Rachelle is a joy, fierce and dangerous and driven, and her world complicated, political, entertaining. I highly recommend CRIMSON BOUND, and can't wait to go back and read CRUEL BEAUTY. I look forward to more work from Hodge, because this was an excellent read.
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