Review 229. Rosamund Hodge – Crimson bound.

Title: Crimson bound.
Author: Rosamund Hodge.
Pages: 448.
Published: May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Sort: Stand-alone!
Other work by the author: Cruel Beauty.

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?

Cruel beauty is without a doubt one of my favorite retellings of all time. It was a highlight last year and I definitely set the bar high for this book. Unfortunately, those high expectations weren’t met. It is still a great book, don’t get me wrong, but it just didn’t hit all the marks for me like Cruel beauty.

Let me start with all the things I did love. 
The world-building is good. I liked the setting and plot. The main idea is that there is a Forest that is filled with Forestbound. These people try to trick others, so they can mark them. That leaves you with two choices: die or kill someone and become bound too. The Forestbound want to claim the main character, Rachelle, as one of them, so she’ll forget her human side entirely. That will happen soon enough, when the Devourer is awakened. The idea of the Devourer gave this book a pressing atmosphere in combination with the random appearances of the creepy Forest.

Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn't want to. She wanted to live with every filthy, desperate scrap of her heart.

Rachelle is, like Nyx, a broken and flawed character, but they are in no way copies from each other. Rachelle can’t live with the kill she made to survive her mark. She uses her power as Forestbound in the name of the King. She hunts down forest creatures as Bloodhound, together with her partner Erec. She has no love for herself and that makes her reckless. Her self-hate was hard to see, especially when we find out more behind the murder she committed. I loved that she redeemed herself in the end, showing her true strength and courage.  I also liked her friendship with Amélie.

Rachelle has to guard the bastard Prince Armand, who claims that he survived the mark of a Forestbound without killing someone. It cost him both hands. He hides his stomps behind metal hands and everyone sees him as the Savior. Rachelle thinks he is a liar, for no one can survive a touch by the Forest if they resist the urge to kill. Slowly she is wrapped up in Armand’s life and she finds out there is more behind his survival. In the mean time we see her trying to resist the pull from the Forest and her quest for a specific sword to stop the Devourer.

What I didn’t like.
I thought the whole Red Riding Hood comparison was a bit far fetched. I kept waiting for the Wolf, but there are only tiny, tiny elements wrapped up in the storyline. I also didn’t like the touch of a love-triangle. I understand Rachelle’s pull towards Erec and Armand, but I didn’t connect with it. Armand was too bland for me and Erec was far too arrogant, so both had no appeal to me. Their storylines were interesting though. I had no idea what to think about Erec and I liked finding out what was going on with Armand.

It’s a book I will put on my shelves with pleasure (look at the cover!), but I don’t think I would reread it over and over again like I will with Cruel Beauty.


  1. Yeah it's hard to read Cruel Beauty and then read Crimson Bound. :/ I had so many expectations for Crimson Bound in terms of the love story. I think the biggest thing I should have realized was the Cruel Beauty's focus was on the romance while Crimson Bound was focused on the mystery and action.

    And yeah, I agree. The elements of the Wolf were far and few between.

  2. Oh nice review! I still need to read this one though! Sad to hear the Wolf isn't as present or clear like in other retellings! And love triangles, ugh...but I loved Cruel Beauty so this is one I have to read eventually! And soon too! LOL! Great review!

  3. Oh that’s funny - my experience was opposite of yours! Cruel Beauty was meh for me, but I fell in love with Crimson Bound.

    I think the wolf was maybe supposed to be the Forestborn that turned her into one? Is that Erec? See, I already need a reread xD Good thing I bought my copy this week!

    Sorry it didn’t live up to Cruel Beauty for you! I wonder if Hodge’s next book will be another retelling; it’ll be interesting to see where that one falls in the lineup :)

  4. Hmmm bugs me sometimes when books claim to be based on fairy tales when really it's hardly present. The world-building does sound interesting! The love triangle has me wary though. I'll probably read this eventually since I will have a copy of my own soon. Hopefully I enjoy it :)

  5. I remember how much you loved Cruel Beauty so I'm very disappointed for you that Crimson Bound failed to deliver the same emotional punch that I know you were hoping for. You do seem to have enjoyed quite a few elements to it though, so at least it wasn't a total letdown :) Unfortunately (for me) as much as I wanted to love Cruel Beauty, I didn't. I'm a little scared to check out Crimson Bound now, most people seem to have had similar experiences to yours. I think I'll still give it a chance though, I hate being the black sheep D: Thanks for the lovely and insightful review Mel^^ ♥

  6. Oh, I'm not sure I even picked up on the fact that this one is supposed to be a Red Riding Hood retelling until you mentioned that. I'm not so much a fan of retellings that are too loose like that. Too bad it wasn't as good as the first! Hopefully the author's next book will be more on par with Cruel Beauty.

  7. I haven't tried this author yet. TOo bad this one didn't quite measure up to Cruel Beauty.

  8. A shame this one didn't meet your expectations Mel, especially after loving Cruel Beauty! I'm looking forward to this one, but I think I will adjust my expectations as well. I like how Rachelle goes on a journey in this book though.

  9. I loved Cruel Beauty too, so I'm sad to see you didn't love this one as much, but of course I'm glad to know it's still good! That cover! Aw, I wish there were more of the Red Riding Hood vein in there. But great review, Mel!!

  10. Lovely review! Ahh, shame this didn't have much RRH in it. But then again, when I actually think about it, you don't want it to be TOO similar to the original story, right? Then again I *completely* understand where you're coming from with that--though hopefully it won't bother me too much. I STILl haven't read Cruel Beauty (I know I know, I think I must be the only person on earth who hasn't read it yet) but I do plan on getting to it soon.

  11. I'm being brutally honest with myself here: "bastard Prince Armand" are the words that stuck out to me. What that says about me, I have no idea. (Haha!) BUT. I am more than intrigued now (by that and the rest of the review!) and will be picking this up soon!

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  12. Stunning review Mel :D I'm glad you ended up liking this book a whole lot. <3 I'm really disappointed by it, though. Meaning, I haven't read it, but I never will, because of that fucked up love triangle o.O Wishing it had been better, hih :) Anyway. your review is awesome. <3 Thank you for sharing sweetie :)

  13. I loved Cruel Beauty much more than this one though, the love triangle was annoying sometimes but I loved Erik's character though. He was so evil! Wonderful review as always Mel :)
    <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

  14. Great review, Mel! I liked this one a little more than you did mostly because I LOVED Rachelle, the world, and the storyline but I agree with the things you didn't like. And I can't get over how gorgeous this cover is. It looks so pretty next to Cruel Beauty :)


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