Crimson Bound

by Rosamund Hodge

Cover Beauty Score: 9 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Rachelle is an apprentice to her aunt whom the village depends on to protect them against the dark magic of the deadly forests. When Rachelle strays from the forest path her aunt tells her to keep on, she is marked by one of the dark forest creatures and must either kill someone within 3 days to survive, or become a mindless dark creature herself. She makes a choice that grants her extreme powers and runs from her small village to the country's capitol, where she becomes a hired hand for the King himself. Forced to act as bodyguard to the King's son, Rachelle tries desperately to interact with the court intrigue while searching for a way to end the dark creatures threats from the evil forest.

My Reaction: Let me start by saying that I had ridiculously high expectations for this book. I famously preached how I adored Hodge's first book, Cruel Beauty (read that review here), and after my extreme love for that one, it's a rather hard impression to live up to. So let me hop into why I gave this book a 3 out of 5.

Hodge is a fabulous writer. There's no getting around that blessedly beautiful fact - her writing is a joy to read and I sincerely wish that every YA writer could take a lesson in prose from this lady. Just take a look at this:

"He grinned at her, and it felt like there was no space or barrier at all between them, like his smile was happening inside her heart. Without meaning to at all, she smiled back."

How beautiful is that?! And it didn't stop here... I could just write quotes from the book all day long, but you really should just read it yourself. In fact, after looking over some of the quotes I marked, I'm worried that I gave this book a 3 based on what I anticipated it being, versus what it actually was. Am I making any sense?

Hodge has a unique ability to weave an intricate tale of darkness and beauty and eeriness and magic together until her book stands on its own as a work of art. While this book certainly had her tone and signature all over it, I felt like the characterization left something to be desired. Or perhaps it was the way the characters interacted with one another. I found Rachelle likable and brave - she made a difficult choice that I feel a lot of us would have made as well. Her personal journey is great and she comes full circle with her growth as a characters. 

So then my ultimate issue is the two men in her life. As I've previously stated, I tend to hate love triangles. Hodge gave us a beautiful twist on the traditional triangle in Cruel Beauty and the heroine had a real and believable relationship with the main hero. Here, however, it felt like Rachelle came out of her big crisis and just settled with the guy she chose. It left me with a Hunger Games Katniss and Peeta type of feeling. Like a "hey we just went through this big thing and I guess we'll be together, but like... I'm not sure I wasn't in love with the other guy. Sorry about that." feeling. 

Perhaps that was my only issue with the book. To be touted as a dark YA fantasy romance, the love bits felt forced. Like Hodge herself couldn't pick between which leading man she wanted Rachelle to fall for. 

That being said, you still need to read this one. I didn't regret buying a signed copy - Hodge is a writer that I am certainly going to follow for the rest of her career. Her approach to traditional fairy tales is breathtaking and despite my picky review of this book, if more teens read Hodge's writing, perhaps we can restore a semblance of literary appreciation to society! 

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