“This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?
Feelings: I have so many mixed emotions about this book. Hodge writes some seriously complicated characters. They’re grappling love, hate, fear, desire, loyalty, plus a dozen other emotions all at the same time. Plus – who the heck are we supposed to trust? That type of complex writing certainly has its positives along with its negatives. I didn’t really connect with anyone in this book, which is something I need in a good book. I wasn’t really rooting for Rachelle the whole time.
Issues: I had similar issues with this book as the ones I had with Cruel Beauty (also by Rosamund Hodge.) These books are not connected – they’re not part of a series or even in the same world. However, they are both really dark and have magical elements that I can’t wrap my head around. There’s something about her writing that I don’t like, also. She uses a lot of sentence fragments, which is hard for this English teacher to navigate around. I don’t mind a good sentence fragment every once in a while. I think they add impact and slow the reader down. But sometimes they confuse me and make me feel like the editor missed something. Like sentence fragments. All the time. (There’s an example.)
Characters: Why the confusing love interests?! Rachelle loved Erec, she hated Erec…she loved Armand, she hated Armand…rinse and repeat a million times. I understand that she had a connection to Erec, courtesy of their bloodboundness, but seriously? He’s king of the douche-bags! There was nothing redeemable about him, not even the fact that he “genuinely” loved Rachelle, which I find debatable.
Rachelle was intense. She had an agenda and did everything with a vengeance, but I wanted so much more from her. She had really beautiful moments getting dressed up and having her friend do her makeup, then she could throw down with the best of the bloodbounds without breaking a sweat. But it still wasn’t enough for me! I don’t know…I just didn’t feel like I actually knew her by the last page.
I will give Rosamund Hodge mad props for writing a relatively hunky love interest…who had no hands.
Comparisons: As with Cruel Beauty, I was really in to the book for the first 2/3 of it. Then, as we got closer to the story’s climax it was like Rosamund Hodge threw everything in the pot and mixed it all up. I was confused, disappointed, and can I say confused again? While I was happy Crimson Bound didn’t take the insta-love route like Cruel Beauty, I still wasn’t completely sold on the romance. I see that this isn’t a romance novel and that Armand and Rachelle’s relationship wasn’t meant to be the focus. But don’t dangle a love story in front of your readers and only do it halfway, am I right? Finally, the love triangle-ish thing going on was very similar to the one in Cruel Beauty which had me like UUGHHHHH STOP.
Final thoughts: If you think this is going to be just another fairy tale retelling, think again. There’s little about this book that feels connected to the popular Little Red Riding Hood story. I didn’t finish this book because of the entertainment value, the personable characters, or the heart racing romance. I stuck it out because I kept hoping it would all make sense. I got to the last page…and nothing. No clarity, no ah-ha moments…just a meh feeling. However, this book definitely took me out of my comfort zone, which is usually a good thing. I don’t typically go for a super dark storyline with a twisty world. I guess I’m glad I read this?
Pick this up if you liked:
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Rook by Sharon Cameron
Goodreads rating: 3.72/5
Amazon.com rating: 4/5
My rating: 3.75/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn