When I first picked up this book - extremely excited, of course - I was so so so happy that I'd have the chance to enter another world created by Rosamund Hodge. After reading her first book, Cruel Beauty, I was blown away by the plot and the romance and she automatically became my favorite author. Seeing the cover of this book, I naturally assumed that it was the sequel/spinoff of the last one, especially since the covers were similar, but after getting partway through the novel, I realized I was wrong. It was disappointing at first, but the author's writing shines through in this book as well, and the ending completely sealed the deal for me. Crimson Bound may not be as ridiculously breathtaking as the first book, but it's another genuine piece of art created by the same, beloved author.
As is apparent from the cover, Crimson Bound is a twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, that really take the "don't stray off the path" thing to a whole 'nother level. And when I say whole 'nother level, I mean that straying off the path can result in turning into an evil, demon-like creature who loses his heart and will destroy anything and everything in its path for absolutely no reason whatsoever. So yeah, kids, do yourself a favor and listen to you mother when she tells you to stay on the path. The main character, Rachelle, has to make a decision regarding whether or not she will abide by the rules and stay on the path, and the choice she makes leads to some serious consequences for her and those she loves. I was hooked to Rachelle's story from the very beginning, and even though it was nowhere near what I had expected, Hodge still managed to keep from disappointing her readers.
One thing I found really interesting about this novel was the twist on the traditional gender roles. Though this isn't always true, more often than not, what happens with the romantic aspect of the book is that the guy usually ends up being the supernatural, evil but not evil creature, while the human girl ends up seeing past the treachery and falling in love with him anyways. This story had it completely opposite, and while it annoyed me at first - I like my fictional guys vicious - I quickly got on board. It may not have exactly been a fresh of breath air for me, but for sure it is something that I can appreciate and admire the author for. I also found it amazing that the human boy previously mentioned, Armand, was still imbued with so much depth. He may not have had brute strength and a snarky character, but everything he did have was strictly his own. Armand was a combination of inner strength, regality, wit, and hidden fury, and it made him shine in his humanity. Yet at the same time, he was self-doubting and unsure about even his affections, and it made him real. Hodge clearly put a lot of effort into the characters, and it paid off.
I was a bit doubtful about this plot ever since it clicked that this wasn't going to be the whirlwind, evil-ish romance that the first book was (and what a sad click it was). So indeed, part of this book had me holding in my dismay and trying not to hate this book for not being what I wanted. Luckily, the more you get into the book, the more you realize that Crimson Bound actually has a heck of a good plot, and it's something that you have become interested in without even knowing it. The great part about this specific book is that there's no slow start, so even if you're worried about not liking the book, it's like being pushed onto a roller coaster, so there's really no backing out. And like I said, the plot is great, and some of the twists are so inconceivable that they literally smacked me in the face. Now that was refreshing.
And of course, the absolute best part of this novel was the FINALE. It was glorious and the entire time I was reading it, it played out like a dramatic season finale in my messed up mind. But it worked. People - like myself - often say that a great ending makes up for about sixty percent of anything one dislikes about a book (okay, you caught me, I made that up - but it still works), and though was only about ten percent of this book I wasn't jumping about, the ending was wow. There were so many twists and turns and betrayals that it was like swinging your head back and forth from this to that and back to this. It was wonderful.
If you do decide to read this book, just do yourself a favor and keep you mind open about it not being too much like Cruel Beauty. As long as you've got that straight, this book will be a delight to any fan of twisted fairy tale retellings. While the novel isn't everything I had hoped it would be, it was different and amazing in it's own right, and besides the lack of a sizzling romance, there's absolutely nothing to complain about.
Book Synopsis: 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.
(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)
Source: A copy was provided by the publisher for review. Thank you!