Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 448 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I didn’t like it. Uh! I hate when I’m excited for a book and then…wawawaaa. The concept was interesting, and author, Rosamund Hodge, wrote an intriguing history, but it was all too much darkness and self-hate.
Once, my husband was yelled at by an opposing religious group, “You deserve hell-fire, sinner!” His offense? Going to see Billy Graham (a well-known, respected Christian evangelist) speak. Rachelle is her own worst opposition, unable to see beyond her past folly, unable to accept anything but “you deserve hell-fire, sinner.” This is Rachelle’s constant struggle, and religion plays a key role. The book is stocked with religious themes. The church, represented by several characters, is a major player in the story, and Rachelle is deeply affected by it.
Rachelle belongs to the Devourer, who wants to rule the world, consume it, and cover it in darkness. And demons or forestborn, like Rachelle, who belong to the Devourer will hunt people for sport (among other evil things). Rachelle has reconciled herself to the darkness while she fights for the good. So she hasn’t REALLY reconciled herself to the darkness, because she sees good and wants to defeat evil, but she’s not worthy of forgiveness or goodness or light, because she “murdered” her aunt who was already clinging to life by a thread (more of a mercy kill, but Rachelle doesn’t see it that way). She’s a terrible person who deserves every evil that comes her way. It’s annoying to write about and it was annoying to read about too. She was uncertain of herself for 85 percent of the book. It was a relief when she found some redemption toward the end, but it was through the words and actions of a man she distrusts the entire book.
Because Rachelle looks at the world through her self-hatred goggles, she misinterprets other people’s motivations, and resents and hates those around her who could help her find redemption, like some of the religious followers (who go from enemy to ally within moments during the last 15 percent of the book, because she finally believes herself worthy of penance).
Her self-hatred also forces her into the arms of a twisted relationship. And the healthier romantic option is clouded by unrevealed motivations and goals. So, the love triangle is sick and frustrating.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Crimson Bound does have some redeeming qualities. It’s mostly clean. Sex is referenced, but not detailed. There’s violence, but not graphic bloodshed. There are also some good discussion topics: hope in religion, hypocrisy, power as an ultimate goal, destructive behavior, and forgiveness.
Age recommendation: 16
Language – none
Drugs & Alcohol— none
Sex – A few kisses; references to multiple sexual partners; two characters sleep together, but the scene is skipped with no details; reference to sexual favors exchanged for something a character wants
Violence – Sword and knife combat; character gets head chopped off; people are killed, but nothing is graphic
My Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Buy: Crimson Bound on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.