Stuff and Nonsense: Crimson Bound


Crimson Bound

Crimson Bound is another one of those books the Young Adult librarian thrust upon me when I last wandered through her demesne, complaining about how I had "nothing" to read. I'd never read anything by Hodge, but the cover was attractive (yes, I do that) and the Young Adult librarian promised me a dark retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a well-written female protagonist and proper scary monsters.

Crimson Bound delivered all those things and more. If you're a fan of Little Red Riding Hood or a want a retelling that hews close to the source material, Crimson Bound probably isn't for you. Yes, there's a red cloak. And a wolf of sorts, I guess, if you accept "wolf" as a metaphor. And an elderly female relative in a woodsy cottage ... but she's no granny and no-one averts her doom.

No, it's best to think of Crimson Bound as quite its own story. A rather mesmerizing, darkly beautiful, and lyrical one, at that. The story takes lots of twists and turns in its telling with friends revealed as enemies, enemies becoming friends, and help springing up from unexpected places. In the end, nearly all the predictions I made as I read the story were proven deliciously wrong. Hodge's world building is fascinating. Much of story feels as if it's set in a dark dream Versailles with a weird there-are-monsters-in-the-woods vibe running through it that I found utterly absorbing. Also, I really enjoyed the use of the story of Tyr and Zisa as a framing story. Germanic folklore, hurrah.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's a small but persnickety one. I don't understand why Hodge decided to merge Rachelle's forestborn and the traitorous bloodhound into one character. For me, it made the bloodhound's betrayal less horrifying. Of course he was going to do wicked things to Rachelle! He. Was. Forestborn. It also skewed the story somewhat for me because it suggested The Devourer and its ilk had been interested in Rachelle for quite some time and, suddenly, she wasn't just a random girl who'd made a rash choice and was daily atoning for the consequences. No, suddenly, she was some kind of Fated Hero.

So ... more wickedness, please, and make it complicated!

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (HarperCollins, 2015)

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