Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: YA Fairytale Retell/Fantasy
Publication: May 5, 2015
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.
This one was disappointing for various reasons but I'm still trying to decide between a 2.5 or 3 stars because some of the dialogue was really good (read witty and funny), but the overall put-together of it just fell flat for me.
One thing specifically that bugged me was that this was supposed to be set in a Versailles-like atmosphere but I don't feel the author brought that across as strongly as I was hoping, almost as though it was added in as an afterthought. Aside from the French names and the occasional use of polite titles such as "mademoiselle", I couldn't envision Versailles.
There was some very rigid storytelling (flashbacks mostly, or almost everything in italics) and the romance/lusty moments felt too contrived and interrupted the story at what felt like inopportune moments. This book tried to be spicy but just didn't quite make it there.
I think there was also a point where the author tried to make a very strong point about our main character's control over her own sexuality by having her sleep with a man she is strongly attracted to but not in love with. This progressive sort of "own yourself!" moment is spoiled by the fact that she was making the decision during a powerful episode of self-hate. Ruins it a bit there...
Rachelle, whom I wanted to love, was just too full of self-loathing to be fully likeable. A bit of self-hatred goes a long way and getting the reader to understand that she despises herself for the things she did to become forestborn doesn't take quite so many reminders. When your main character, whose inner voice you're hearing at every turn, has no hope for herself...ever... it becomes a rather grudging read.
Another issue, I'm not so sure we could call this one a fairytale retelling. I can't imagine that someone who hadn't read the synopsis would be able to figure out that this was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Similarities? Red cloak. Check.... seductive bad-guy villain with murderous intentions? Check... Uh... I guess Rachelle's aunt was the grannie?
The sun and the moon bit were clever, and so was the "rebirth" concept. I have a feeling the author studied this Fairytale in an academic sense at some point in her life, and bravo for her (that is not sarcasm, I love when people do research!). If the author did indeed mean to include some of the anthropological theory about little red riding hood/wolf being symbols of the sun and moon and the natural solar cycles, as well as the concepts of rebirth then great, but I'm not sure how many readers would actually be aware of the author's literary theory tie-ins surrounding LRR enough for it to matter.
For me, this just wasn't a strong enough retelling. I might have enjoyed this book more had I not been trying to figure out how it related to the Perrault/ Grimm originals (in a non theoretical way) half the time.
To be clear... this is not a crap-trash book, the ideas were pretty clever and the heroine was one tough cookie! There are things to like about this book... but my personal expectations for a great fairytell retelling weren't met and, for me, the romance felt stilted and unnatural.
Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk. A Teen Librarian and bibliobibuli by nature as well as a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once). She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.