Title: Crimson bound.
Author: Rosamund Hodge.
Published: May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Other work by the author: Cruel Beauty.
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?
Let me start with all the things I did love.
The world-building is good. I liked the setting and plot. The main idea is that there is a Forest that is filled with Forestbound. These people try to trick others, so they can mark them. That leaves you with two choices: die or kill someone and become bound too. The Forestbound want to claim the main character, Rachelle, as one of them, so she’ll forget her human side entirely. That will happen soon enough, when the Devourer is awakened. The idea of the Devourer gave this book a pressing atmosphere in combination with the random appearances of the creepy Forest.
Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn't want to. She wanted to live with every filthy, desperate scrap of her heart.
Rachelle is, like Nyx, a broken and flawed character, but they are in no way copies from each other. Rachelle can’t live with the kill she made to survive her mark. She uses her power as Forestbound in the name of the King. She hunts down forest creatures as Bloodhound, together with her partner Erec. She has no love for herself and that makes her reckless. Her self-hate was hard to see, especially when we find out more behind the murder she committed. I loved that she redeemed herself in the end, showing her true strength and courage. I also liked her friendship with Amélie.
Rachelle has to guard the bastard Prince Armand, who claims that he survived the mark of a Forestbound without killing someone. It cost him both hands. He hides his stomps behind metal hands and everyone sees him as the Savior. Rachelle thinks he is a liar, for no one can survive a touch by the Forest if they resist the urge to kill. Slowly she is wrapped up in Armand’s life and she finds out there is more behind his survival. In the mean time we see her trying to resist the pull from the Forest and her quest for a specific sword to stop the Devourer.
What I didn’t like.
I thought the whole Red Riding Hood comparison was a bit far fetched. I kept waiting for the Wolf, but there are only tiny, tiny elements wrapped up in the storyline. I also didn’t like the touch of a love-triangle. I understand Rachelle’s pull towards Erec and Armand, but I didn’t connect with it. Armand was too bland for me and Erec was far too arrogant, so both had no appeal to me. Their storylines were interesting though. I had no idea what to think about Erec and I liked finding out what was going on with Armand.
It’s a book I will put on my shelves with pleasure (look at the cover!), but I don’t think I would reread it over and over again like I will with Cruel Beauty.