Cruel Beauty was one of my favorite YA books of 2014 and I have been eagerly awaiting Crimson Bound since I read Rosamund Hodge’s first book almost a year ago. In Crimson Bound, Hodge twists and retells the story of Red Riding Hood. Rachelle was training to be her aunt’s apprentice until she wandered off the path in the forest and was marked as a Bloodbound by a Forestborn. This left her with a choice: kill someone in three days or die herself. Rachelle chooses to live but it is a choice that still haunts her three years later. As her version of penance, Rachelle joins the King’s Bloodbound guard and fights to protect the people from the creatures of the Great Forest, until she is assigned to protect the King’s son, Armand. As she guards Armand, Rachelle is also trying to find two ancient swords that could help her prevent the Forestborn from causing an endless night to fall.
To me, the novel started a little slowly. Additionally, I was disappointed to see that a lot of the plot was taken up by a rather traditional love triangle. Rachelle is such a strong heroine it seemed out of character that she cannot make up her mind between two men. Hodge’s writing, however, makes the story worth it. The story really picked up in the last third of the book and I did not see some of the twists that led to the climax. One of my favorite aspects of Cruel Beauty was Hodge’s descriptions, and she still excels at this in Crimson Bound. The Great Forest is suitably atmospheric and terrifying and it is clear that Hodge got much of her inspiration for the court Rachelle must navigate from pre-Revolutionary France.
All in all, Crimson Bound is a well plotted fairy tale retelling with plenty of twists and a strong heroine, though Rachelle’s indecisiveness between Armand and Erec did take away from the story for me a bit. I would recommend this novel and I hope that Hodge continues with her retellings.