Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Digital Audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 5, 2015
Series: Fairytales #2
Genres: Fairy Tale Retellings, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Magic, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 441 pages or 11 hours, 40 minutes
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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 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 they become unexpected allies, they discover 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?
It took me a long time to get into this book. Crimson Bound has a really rich, vibrant world, but the writing moves at its own gradual pace, and the characters are hit or miss. The romance, too, was major eye roll material, but I suppose you can’t have everything!
The Great Forest was where this book truly shined. I found Rosamund Hodge’s descriptions of a dark, malicious forest come to life to be both chilling and exciting. Particularly in the segment in the middle, when Rachelle and Armand ride with the Wild Hunt… the bits of me in love with Celtic mythology were *screaming* at that! There are elements woven into the world building – layers of mythology, religion, political intrigue and dissent as well as judicial practices and the contrast between palace life and peasant life… all these things breathed so much vibrancy in the story that it was easy to let the Great Forest burst up around you.
I suppose if you *must* do a love triangle, the one in Crimson Bound is done pretty well. All three characters have life and motivation outside the relationship, making it a bit more three-dimensional than love triangles I’ve met before. Unfortunately, there were some cringe-worthy moments for me in the way Erec treated Rachelle and the way Rachelle thought about herself after the fact. Generally, though, I appreciated that the love triangle *wasn’t* the plot, because that seems to happen in a lot of books, but no. Crimson Bound has a life of its own.
This book is marketed as a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, and I feel like that does it a disservice. There is a bit of an appreciative gesture toward Little Red Riding Hood, but I felt like mythology and Hansel and Gretel played a larger role in this one. Additionally, I loved that the setting of the Court had a very French feel, specifically Revolution-esque, which I found highly appropriate. You won’t often find me commenting on fashion – either in books or life – but I appreciated the care that was taken with it here.
All in all, I though Rachelle was a great character with a lot of spirit, and I loved Amelie. Several minor characters play key roles in the resolution that I really appreciated, and while the very ending was terribly predictable, I appreciated the fact that the journey was full of surprises. It wasn’t perfect, but I really liked it.