If you had any doubts that Rosamund Hodge could top her debut, CRUEL BEAUTY, then throw them out now. CRIMSON BOUND is a stunning sophomore novel that I couldn't put down.
CRIMSON BOUND is a retelling of both Little Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands. I'm unfamiliar with the latter, but just like with CRUEL BEAUTY, CRIMSON BOUND is influenced by fairytales, but not a direct retelling. Little Red Riding Hood is more the catalyst of the story, rather than the entire plot. Hodge excels at taking fairytales and turning them on their heads. What I loved most about what she did with this story is the fact that Rachelle is both Riding Hood and the wolf.
The world-building in this novel is phenomenal. There are so many layers to the world. In between each of Rachelle's chapters is a story of the last time the Devourer was held back, told piece by piece until the all is finally revealed. I loved this mythology so much. Then there's the terror of the Devourer, a true horror that creeps ever closer to ending all light. His followers, the forestborn, are cruel and frightening.
Every character in the story is complex, with motives of their own. There are all these different paths that slowly converge as the choices everyone makes brings them to the climax. I enjoy a story where characters aren't simply black-and-white, and Hodge provides them in spades here.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I felt the romance was a little rushed. Rachelle and Armand go from hatred to love very quickly. For me personally, I prefer a slow-build romance. That said, fans of romance will have plenty to swoon over here, and ultimately, I did enjoy their romantic scenes together. They make each other vulnerable in unexpected ways, so their scenes have a lot of tension running beneath them.
The Final Verdict:
CRIMSON BOUND is a dark, captivating story with a compelling heroine and a richly-imagined fantasy world.