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Crimson Bound: Review

3 Stars.

There is so much I loved about this book. The beautiful writing. The french inspiration. The dark and twisted setting. The complicated characters who walked the line of good...well mostly evil, but I still cared for them.

Why, then, does this not rate in the coveted 5 star shelf with its predecessor Cruel Beauty?

I'm finding it hard to say why, as the more I think it over, the more I come up with reasons this was a wonderfully written, hauntingly dark fairy tale. The way the Great Forest is described, ever so slightly creeping in on the edges of our conscious, was astounding. I absolutely adored any and all focus on this magical place.

But the moment we left the forest behind, I felt completely disconnected. I could not sympathize with Rachelle, though perhaps it was my own manifestation of what I wanted her character to be. She was well-enough developed, and certainly badass enough in her capabilities, but I found her constant...constant inner loathing tiresome. The excellent prose and breathtaking descriptions carried me easily through the story, but I never truly felt invested in if Rachelle succeeded in her quest.

I did not see the love in this story in a form of a triangle - rather I saw all the different forms love could take. Hodge gives us so much more than just romantic love with the relationships in Crimson Bound, including the lengths of sibling and familial love and the love and devotion of a true and judgement-free friendship.

“I tell you, there was nothing she would not do for her brother.” 

That said, the romance between Rachelle and Armand was one of the only areas I would say was underdeveloped. They move from untrusting partial-enemies to being in love with barely any reason or build up, and much of their relationship felt rushed. Funny enough, it was Rachelle's complicated relationship with Erec that I was most drawn to, though I knew from the start if not how exactly it would end, then that it would not end with them together. I would have to say my favorite character was Erec, actually, and I cannot stress enough how much I love how Hodge is able to write a complex villain that I end up rooting for. Though he is everything Rachelle is trying desperately not to become, he is simple in his understanding that he loves her for everything she already is without being forestborn. And the twist! Love it when I am blindsided by them, and the fact that *Spoiler* is the forestborn whom she has loathed and sworn to kill only adds to the delightfully complicated and twisted nature of their relationship. Funny how he despises humans and longs for the Endless Night where he can hunt them, yet he exclaims unwaveringly throughout the story how what he loved about Rachelle from the start was her courage, strength and determination - characteristics she showed him first as a human. Though his motives are evil, he shows us without doubt he is capable of love, but in the end it is not enough to see him saved. *dreamy sigh*. Like I said, gotta love when I find me a good, complicated villain.

Even with Crimson Bound's many accomplishments, I can't get past the fact that for most of the story I was merely tagging along, never feeling truly immersed in the world. I would have liked to see more into the realm of the Great Forest; learn more about its history and past. But each time we're given a glimpse we're tugged right back into Rachelle's self-pitying.

Three stars because of the disconnection I felt from the moment the prologue ended, though still a very much recommended read for the wonderful imagery and writing.

Head over to Goodreads to discuss this book with me!

Virginia DeFeo