If you combine the grim nature of fairytales with a paranormal YA vibe and set it in 17th-century France, you end up with CRIMSON BOUND, and somehow, it all works out beautifully, like a layered, detailed painting. Inspired by classics such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Girl Without Hands” and “Hansel and Gretel,” CRIMSON BOUND tells the story of Rachelle, a headstrong girl who encounters a creature called forestborn, a former human with strong, invincible, murderous powers.
By committing a terrible crime, Rachelle becomes bloodbound, one step closer to transforming into forestborn. Rachelle attempts to atone for her mistakes by defending the kingdom with her inhuman speed and skill. When she is forced to guard the King’s son Armand, whom she despises, she forces Armand to help her find a sword that will save the world from the god of the forestborn, the Devourer. As the two begin to explore the realm, they discover long-forgotten magic, conspiracies and love in unexpected places.
What a refreshing dip back into the fantasy world! Though the above synopsis may sound confusing, author Rosamund Hodge paces the narrative perfectly so that it doesn’t take more than a few pages to get the gist of the unique magic employed in the novel. Hodge’s world-building is well-constructed and creative. Her characters are also quite unlike those in any other YA fantasy novel I’ve read, with Rachelle’s self-hatred, Armand’s wryness and Erec’s deadly playfulness.
CRIMSON BOUND is a page-turner with the unpredictability of a rollercoaster. There were reveals and plot twists that actually sent a jolt down my spine and made me rethink everything that had happened leading up to that moment. The spin on well-known fairytales is fantastic, especially when all the stories meld effortlessly together. Hodge goes back and forth with ease between a folklore-ish, Brothers Grimm-style voice and a modern tone that fits the protagonist well. CRIMSON BOUND is a surprising, one-of-a-kind fantasy novel with the epic battle of good and evil, where perhaps the “good” may not be righteous.
First Published @ teensread.com