Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 448 pages
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.
Protagonist: Rachelle has been raised to fear the Great Forest and protect her people from it. However, she wants to do more than protect her people, she wants to destroy the monster that threatens them, not sit idly by weaving charms and protection spells. I liked Rachelle for the most part, though she was a bit more self-deprecating than I would have liked, or rather that she took to long to develop out of that self-deprecation. However, I did love her kick-ass and take names mentality and how she fought every step of the way to keep her humanity and free her kingdom from the evil lurking under the surface.
Romance: So this book does have a love triangle of sorts, even though it's not talked about in the description, but it's the sort of love triangle that's hard to really take seriously and the other "love interest" is more a complication for the main couple than a real contender for the main character's heart. So focusing on Armand and Rachelle, I have to say while I eventually really liked their romance, at first it comes off a bit stilted. When Armand and Rachelle first meet there's no romantic tension or insta-love or anything that would make it seem like these characters could in any way actually get together. Then out of the blue somewhere down the line Rachelle starts to have feelings for him and it came off really abrupt and unnatural, so I would have liked a bit more romantic tension before Rachelle realized her feelings.
World-Building: So like most fairy tale retellings I really enjoyed what the author did with this world. There is a bit of a Little Red Riding Hood inspiration, but it's not heavily present in the entire book, just more toward the beginning and end, and there's also a little bit of Hansel and Gretel mixed in as well which makes for an amazing side story/historical lore. The world itself seems to be inspired off of seventeenth century France which added a certain real world influence that made the story feel a bit more grounded. My only real complaint is that it took a bit to really pick up and get the ball rolling.
Predictability: I was really surprised with how unpredictable this book could be. While there were bits of foreshadowing to point to even some of the largest twists, I didn't really pick up on them until after, and I mean pretty far after, the twist was already revealed. Though ironically there was one twist that I sort of guessed before hand. In the beginning I had misunderstood something, which later just so happened to be true. There were a handful of times when I could predict something, but it was either rather vague story telling ideals and small rather insignificant things.
Ending: This is a stand alone and that means that everything is nicely and neatly tied up, well that's sort of true. While I don't need certain untied threads to be tied up, I do need to acknowledge that there are some things left totally unresolved, but they aren't too important to the story and don't really need an absolute resolution for the story to end well. As for the final confrontation of the book, well That was something that really surprised me, It wasn't what I expected, but in the end it really fit with not only the theme of the story but with the character of those involved.
So I debated heavily on how I was going to rate this book, and in the end, with it's uneven love story and it's slow start, no matter how amazing the rest of the book was I couldn't give it five stars, but still it's an amazing read and I can't wait to see what's next from Ms. Hodge!