Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson BoundCrimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Genre: YA, FAIRY TALE

Publisher: Balzer + Bray on May 5, 2015

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

My thanks to Blazer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

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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.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Rosamund Hodge (sometimes I feel like the only YA reader who hasn’t read CRUEL BEAUTY), but I certainly wasn’t expecting such wonderful writing. Say what you will about the occasional trite moment because ultimately CRIMSON BOUND is a triumph of lyrical storytelling.

Our story takes place in Gévaudan, an alternate version of seventeenth-century France. A cruel and unfeeling King commands the human peasantry and the bloodbound alike, a race of beings who were once human but are now preternaturally strong and destined to become the soulless creatures of the Devourer. Sounds pretty ominous, right?

Once upon a time, the Devourer emerged from the Great Forest and wrought his dark magic upon the land. He swallowed the sun and the moon, and the world was plunged into eternal night. It was only centuries later that the brave and selfless twins Zisa and Tyr beat back the Devourer’s forces and returned light to the land. But those warriors have fallen into the mires of legend, and the Devourer’s time has come again…

Rachelle has always known that she was meant to fight the Devourer, using the ancient charms and magics of the woodwives to counter the darkness. A strong-willed and defiant girl, she believed that selfishness would not tempt her. But when she was faced with a terrible choice, she chose to live as a monster rather than die and be redeemed. Now she is a bloodbound, and the memory of what – and who – she has lost will push her into a fight not just for her soul, but for her country.

As that little description might suggest, Rachelle has a whole lot of angst swirling inside of her. She hates what she has become and burns with the desire for both revenge and redemption in the eyes of her God. As much as I understood her feelings, as a reader I started to get a little tired of her self-hatred and generally poor attitude. I can’t help but think that things might have been a little easier for her if she hadn’t been so hell bent on convincing everyone that she was a monster, unworthy of friendship or love.

But of course Rachelle learns that you can’t control how other people feel about you, and although she is reviled by many for her bloodbound nature, there are still those who care for her. CRIMSON BOUND is a fairy-tale retelling about love, not just about romance. Rachelle’s greatest stumbling block is her inability to understand how anyone could love her; as powerful as the love she’s shown by her friend Amélie and the two men vying for her affections is, Rachelle ultimately has to learn to forgive herself for her sins or surrender to the darkness. She has to learn to love herself.

As nice as the romance was, I definitely preferred Rachelle’s story arc about loving herself. To all you love triangle haters out there, a warning: there is a big time love triangle in CRIMSON BOUND. While it pains me to say it, I actually kind of understood why Rachelle’s affections were divided (at least superficially). It very quickly becomes clear who she really cares for and who merely provides a distraction, although that’s complicated by the betrayals and counter-betrayals that abound in this book. I love a good plot twist as much as the next person, but my head actually started to spin at one point!

Despite having some issues with it, I finished CRIMSON BOUND in one sitting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like dark fairy tale retellings and YA romance, I definitely recommend this one.

Have you read anything by Rosamund Hodge? Am I truly the last person who hasn’t read CRUEL BEAUTY yet? What is your position on love triangles that actually make sense? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • I’m on board for dark fairy tale retellings! And no, you’re not the last person to read Crimson Bound…I have the audiobook of it, one of these days I’ll go on a YA audio binge and take care of all of these on my list!

    ~Mogsy

    • Phew, relief! I’ll read it eventually. Maybe the audio version would work for me…I’ve actually not listened to many YA audiobooks.

  • Yeah I could understand the triangle here, it didn’t bug me to no end lol. But honestly there just wasn’t any sparks there for me with Armand. I could understand the lust angle with the other but like you I preferred her self love arc.

    • Thankfully the triangle wasn’t too intense – it’s pretty obvious who Rachelle actually cares about. Yes, I completely agree about Armand…he was kind of boring! Just too good of a person, if that makes sense.

  • I’ve read Cruel Beauty (listened to it, actually, it was part of last year’s Sync program!) and I liked it. It wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed the retelling.
    Hodge seems to have a thing for love triangles! I don’t hate them altogether, just when they’re forced. I dislike them as a plot device to add tension, I find that they usually stretch my belief a bit (TWO gorgeous guys vying for her affection? Seriously?), but if they’re done well, I don’t mind 🙂 As long as the person in the middle knows how to choose in the end… And doesn’t lead the other guy/girl on.

    • Ooh, glad to hear that the audio version is good. I think I’ll go with that version when I get around to it. Totally agree – any sort of romantic subplot gets a bit ridiculous when it’s clearly only there to create some interest. Hahaha, where are all these gorgeous guys in YA coming from?! I think most people look a bit bizarre at age 16…puberty, ya know?

      • I actually wish I’d read the book, not listened to it – I thought the narrator was too affected at times (you know, whispering when the character whispers and such). I don’t know – can you listen to a sample or something before committing to it? 🙂

        Ha, yes, guys at 16 are usually awkward and lanky 😉 But to be fair I distinctly remember several really cute ones from high school, too, so maybe YA romances have a point sometimes 😉