Published by Balzer + Bray on May 2015
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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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 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.
Rachelle is bound to a forestborn (or fae), destined to become one of them at some point in the future. As a Bloodbound, she has supernatural strength and the ability to sense magic. She works as a guard, protecting the realm from demons that appear around the city. When she is told that the Devourer is on the way to bring eternal darkness, she sets herself the task of locating one of the pair of legendary swords in order to defeat it. In the meantime, she is assigned to guard the heir to the throne, Armand.
I haven’t read Cruel Beauty, and although this story is supposed to be set in the same world, Crimson Bound is really a stand-alone. I didn’t feel I was missing anything by not having read Cruel Beauty first.
Crimson Bound is a beautifully-written story, with rather lyrical descriptions. It had a sort of over-all Little Red Riding Hood feel to it, rather than be an actual retelling. The pacing wasn’t always the fastest but the action parts were exciting and I found compelled to keep reading to find out what was coming next. I also liked the way the legend of Tyr and Zisa was wound in and out of the story, gradually revealing more and more of what happened the first time the Devourer visited.
My main problem with it was that I didn’t really like Rachelle, despite her being a kick-arse soldier and demon fighter. She was just cranky quite a lot of the time. I’m sure I would be as well if I had been forced to murder someone and become enslaved to an immortal being, but really, she’s just sullen, when she’s not being all insecure about her abilities.
I did like Armand, and how he handled being labeled as a saint. The romance between them was just a little strange, though. Rachelle felt so cold most of the time that when she was actually having romantic thoughts, it felt a bit awkward. Then she went and View Spoiler » jumped Erec, which was just a bit wrong « Hide Spoiler. Anyway.
Crimson Bound is an interesting look at the way people might react to a perceived coming catastrophe, either through religion and resignation (“it’s all in God’s hands”), or by actually believing that they can do something to avert the disaster and taking action.
I liked how it all played out at the end, although I was pretty baffled at the whirlpool scene. Where is the forestborn now and will they try to save him in a future story? Unfortunately I had sort of guessed who the hidden bad guy was from the start, so that part was no great surprise.
Despite my dislike of the characters, this was an enjoyable book to read. If you like dark fairytales, you’ll probably find this one to your taste.