Published on May 5, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
[This book was provided to me by the Publisher but this in no way affected my opinion.]
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.Okay, so I made a huge mistake when entering this book. The first one was to listen to GR saying that this was part of the same world of Cruel Beauty but the second, and bigger one, was to actually enter this specting a Cruel Beauty 2.0 - which means mythology based novel focused mostly on an epic romance, but Crimson Bound there is much more to it and in a lot of ways is much more successful than Cruel Beauty despite not having given me that much emotions.
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.
The first thing that Crimson Bound differs from Cruel Beauty is in it's world, this time around we spend a lot more time building this world on it's mythology and magical aspects but also on the politics of it, seeing how it works (since Rachelle works for the King), this came to me as a very high fantasy aspect and it did slowed the pace of the book - we need time to digest everything that has been happening to this world and understand how Rachelle wants to change it. For me this parts wasn't boring but if you're not a fan of slow paced books you may want to rethink reading this one.
Rachelle is another wonderful main character that Hodge managed to create. She is a bloodbound, which means she was marked by the forest and killed to survive, working for the king on killing creatures that manage to escape of the forest (which is the magical *thing* of this world) and she does that so she feels less guilty of having killed her aunt. I love the internal struggles that Hodge manages to create with all of her characters, Rachelle is torn between guilty and wanting to be good but also wanting to stay alive, and this created a multi layered character that made me care for her story.
About the romance, this is probably the weakest point of the story, I was highly anticipating a great ship but that wasn't what happened. We kind of have a love triangle, I don't know if I would call it that because it's pretty clear that Rachelle only have feelings for one of the parts, the other part is only there to cause unnecessary complication, usually I don't mind love triangles even the ones that are unnecessary but I really, really didn't enjoyed the execution of this one. On one hand we Erec, which is also a bloodbound but on the contrary of Rachelle he loves it, their relationship is made of snark remarks, lust and an obsessive love from Erec's part and I enjoyed their interactions for the most part. What really annoyed me was the main couple, Rachelle and Armand, I started out really enjoying them but they annoyed towards the end because they would kiss and swear love to each other (or close to it) and then something would happen and they would be all like "Oh my god, I thought you didn't wanted me anymore" and on repeat (I swear they "broke up" and "made out" three times during the novel, and they only get together after the halfway point so yeah).
Except for that I really did enjoyed this book, it was slightly unfair my early comparisons of this with Cruel Beauty since this is completely different and a new unique story by it's own right. Oh, also I don't really know why this is a Red Riding Hood retelling (maybe Erec is the big bad wolf?) because it was really loosely their similarities. I would recommend it to lovers of fantasy and mythology, fans of great lyrical writing and strong and layered characters.