Fairy Tale Friday: Crimson Bound

Crimson Bound is written by Rosamund Hodge. It was published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray.

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good-apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But when Rachelle was fifteen she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in pursuit 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 hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as they become unexpected allies, they discover 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?

I was excited to read Crimson Bound because Hodge’s Cruel Beauty was delightful, though flawed in some places. Crimson Bound is inspired by Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands, and I say “inspired” because only the bare bones of the fairy tales are there. The most pronounced Red Riding Hood aspect (that I noticed) is only in the beginning of the novel, and as far as I could tell, the only part of The Girl With No Hands fairy tale in the novel is that Armand has no hands. So I was slightly disappointed that this self-proclaimed fairy tale adaptation was more of an original fantasy with small fairy tale references.

The novel wasn’t bad; it was well-written, for the most part, with good tension and some pretty imagery. The romance was the usual type and so were most of the plot reveals; nothing was truly surprising. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as exciting and new and original as I was hoping it would be. I’m not a fan of the self-loathing protagonist type, as it tends to lead to over-the-top angst and drama, so I didn’t much like Rachelle.

I also found it awfully convenient that of course Rachelle wouldn’t be a normal forest born once she changed. Of course she would be the one person to overcome it and save the day. I was impressed with the originality of Cruel Beauty, but Crimson Bound relies much too heavily on overused and obvious tropes.

I did like the character of the Bishop and his role in the novel. There’s a scene towards the end of the book where Rachelle confesses to the Bishop and it’s very pretty in its simplicity and earnestness. It also showed that Hodge was going to be two-dimensional with the religion in the book after all, rather than the very one-dimensional front that had been displayed up until that point. So, that aspect of the book I thought was well done.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Some sensual scenes, kissing, implied sex.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Young Adult

She let out a short, quick breath and sat down cross-legged on the floor. She cupped her hands around the charm. She tried to clear her mind of distractions, the way Aunt Léonie had taught her.

She thought, I need Joyeuse. I need it.

I need it.

There was a curious sensation, like weight shifting and finding its balance. The air went still in her lungs.

The charm was warm in her hands.

Without meaning to, Rachelle’s eyes snapped pen and she stood in a single smooth motion. It felt like there was a string tied along the length of her spine, drawing her up, and now it was pulling her forward.

She walked toward the doorway. She felt like she was floating. She thought, Joyeuse.

Overall Review:

Crimson Bound was not as impressive as I was hoping. The fairy tales it was based on were only briefly alluded to (not usually a bad thing, but it is when the book is being marketed as a fairy tale adaptation), there was too much reliance on tropes that have been done to death, and Rachelle was too self-loathing for me to fully like her. A lot of the imagery was beautiful and I liked what Hodge did with the Bishop, but overall, I was disappointed.

You can buy this here: Crimson Bound

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