Author: Rosamund Hodge
Three years ago Rachelle Brinon was marked by a forestborn and was forced to kill or die herself. Destined to one day give in to the call of the Great Forest and become a forestborn herself, Rachelle has become one of the King’s bloodbound as penance. While Rachelle battles the forest’s ferocious woodspawn, she discovers an ancient sword may be the key to defeating the Devourer, an mythical power said to bring about the destruciton of the world. When Rachelle is appointed bodyguard to the King’s son, Armand Vareilles, she must decide if she can trust him and discover the sword’s hiding place before the Devourer returns.
“Her senses had sharpened as they always did when somebody nearby was afraid; she half saw, half heard the swift, desperate pulse in his throat. But he was staring her down as if she couldn’t draw her sword, cut his neck open, and walk away. As if she didn’t know what it felt like to have blood beneath her fingernails and spattered across her face.”
Rosamund Hodge’s Crimson Bound is based loosely on Little Red Riding Hood. The forestborn, devotees to the Devourer, lurk in the forest like wolves, waiting for their prey to wonder in. When Rachelle was young and curious, she found herself intrigued by a forestborn and unable to resist the pull she felt toward him. Her naivety bought her a mark that stripped her of innocence and damned her to a life of strife. While other bloodbound have sought forgiveness and others have embraced the darkness within, Rachelle has drowned herself in hatred. Hatred for the forestborn, hatred for those trying to save her, and hatred for herself.
When Rachelle meets Armand, who claims he was marked, but who neither took a life nor gave up his own, she is filled with animosity. Her dislike for him stems more from envy than distrust, as she has spent the last three years of her life fueled by bitterness. Their relationship has an interesting beginning, but the evolution felt too hurried. Rachelle’s feelings moved from hatred to romantic quite quickly with no transitional period. More time is spent laying the foundation for Rachelle’s relationship with her fellow bloodbound, Erec, and even though I didn’t root for these two, their rapport felt more natural.
The world building in Crimson Bound is its strongest feature. Folklore bleeds into present day and the Great Forest has a mind of its own, seeking to ensnare everyone. There is an interesting collision of faiths, but in the end these two contrary theologies find a way to reconcile with one another in an effort to defeat the Devourer.