Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter
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?
Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.
A retelling mash-up of The Girl Without Hands & Little Red Riding Hood!
To be quite honest, I'd never heard of the former until Hodge mentioned it in her acknowledgements. Now that I've looked it up, the story makes even more sense, and I have to give her props for weaving it into this retelling!
Ok, this is a dark retelling, and Rachelle isn't exactly a princess, so if you're hoping for a fluffy love story, back away from this book. For the rest of you?
It all starts when she takes a walk in the woods...
Our heroine is a survivor, and she does what she has to do to live. Which means, sometimes she makes the morally wrong choice. In fact, in the first few chapters, she kills her beloved aunt in order to survive a curse. Too bad for her, surviving the curse means she actually becomes a cursed creature.
So what's a girl to do with the time she has left as a human?
Well, Rachelle decides to serve her kingdom as a supernatural hunter. She works for the king, and protects people from the nightmarish monsters that are leaking out of the ever encroaching magical Forrest. Legend says that the Devourer will someday return, and bring with him Endless Night.
Most of the people think it's just a story, but Rachelle knows that this monster is very real.
And almost at their doorstep. She doesn't want redemption, but she does want revenge. And armed with a story her aunt used to tell, she plans to find the one weapon that might be able to end its reign of evil.
Alrighty, so where does The Girl Without Hands story come in? Well, in this version, it's not a girl at all. It's the king's bastard son, a presumed saint, who makes life harder for Rachelle when she has to become his bodyguard. He's (supposedly) lost his hands when refused to kill an innocent in order to survive his curse. His father, in order to use his popularity to quell the rebels, assigns Rachelle to protect him, and insists that they accompany him to a heavily warded royal house in the country.
She hates her new charge, Armand, because if he is being honest, that means she didn't have to kill her aunt. But, more than that, she doesn't think he's telling the whole truth about about how he really lost his hands.
It's time to take a road trip & fall in love!
Relax, there's no insta-love in Crimson Bound. When she first meets him she hates his guts, because she thinks he's a fraud that's playing on people's ignorance. Throughout the story they gradually start to respect each other, and then trust, and (only then) does Rachelle begin to realize that she feels more for Armand.
Can I just point out that the fact that his hands got lopped off, so we're getting a bit of diversity in what is usually considered a traditional Handsome Hero. The dude has stumps! And I thought it was just awesome that while it's addressed as something he has to deal with, it's not something that Rachelle has to overcome in order to be attracted to him. It's just hands. Yeah, it make it difficult for him, but other than the initial shock at seeing him without his silver hands on, it is a non-issue in her growing attraction toward him. She also finds him rather plain looking when they first meet, but (like all real love) she slowly finds that she prefers his face more than anyone else's.
Secrets, betrayal, miscommunication, conspiracies, and sacrifice.
Can true love really conquer all?
But pulling on your Big Girl Panties, and doing the right thing just might work.
So, yeah, I really enjoyed this. It's not going to be something that everyone will like, but this struck just the right balance between dark fantasy, fairytale, and romance for me!