When a forestborn puts their mark on a human, that human will kill within three days and become bloodbound with the power of the Forest running through their veins. If the human doesn't kill, they will die themselves.
Rachelle was fifteen when she met the forestborn in the woods. But in spite of the legends and warnings - and in spite of her aunt's teachings - Rachelle thought she could outsmart the forestborn. See, it is well known in her land that the forestborn serve the Devourer. Although the Devourer has been bound, his time is coming again and Rachelle vowed to be the one to kill him once and for all. The forestborn revealed how to do so, but marked Rachelle in turn. And three days later, she killed her beloved aunt.
Now Rachelle has given her life in service of the king, the only way a bloodbound can avoid a mandatory death sentence. Signs of the Devourer's return are increasing and Rachelle's only hope is to find one of the legendary swords said to be the only way to kill him. But her duty to the king threatens her mission when she is assigned to protect his illegitimate son - a man some say is the only one to resist a forestborn's mark and survive.
Oh, this book was something of a dilemma for me. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Rosamund Hodge's debut, Cruel Beauty. But there were times when I seriously considered giving up on Crimson Bound. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't grabbing me like its predecessor did.
First there was confusion - I kept having to reread sections, feeling as though I'd missed something. I thought - and I'm not the only one, even though it may have been a misconception on all of our parts - that this book had some sort of tie to Cruel Beauty. If it does, I wasn't able to discern it. (Rumor had it that this second book was to take place in the same world.) Then there was the attempt to keep all of the new information about the bloodbound and forestborn, Tyr and Zisa, and the Court straight in my head as I was reading.
I wasn't sure I was completely sold on Rachelle either. She was quite obstinate. She's also a bit mercurial, which is increasingly apparent as her relationships with Armand and Erec progress. She didn't appeal to me nearly as much as Nyx.
It took a long time for me to get really into the book. And maybe I just wasn't giving it a fair shot constantly comparing it to Cruel Beauty.
I am glad that I stuck with it. Like Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound is filled with the same luscious detail and imagery that I so adored in that debut. And the story is so wholly unique that I did very easily find things to love about it. (This one is a twist on "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Girl With No Hands.") The legend of Tyr and Zisa was fabulous and the Forest - oh, the Forest! - I did really love that element. There's a tiny little bit about the Wild Hunt... !
Anyway, I'm not sure how to rate this one. It wasn't bad but unfortunately it didn't quite meet my expectations for so many reasons. So I guess while I liked it, I wanted to LOVE it and didn't. It's ok, though, I still adore Hodge's work and will wait anxiously for more!