"This story begins with endless night and infinite forest; with two orphaned children, and two swords made of broken bone.
It has not ended yet."
Yet another gorgeous cover. Like Ms. Hodge's previous book, Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound is also a fairy tale retelling. However, it is not a sequel and isn't actually in the same universe. It's based a lot on Little Red Riding Hood, but there are also aspects of other fairy tales. Everything comes together quite nicely and makes a truly original book that sounds like it should have been written by the Brothers Grimm.
The book begins when Rachelle meets a forestborn, basically a creeper who hangs out to catch unsuspecting people. She is training to become a woodwife (They cast spells and protect people from the Forest), but she is also young and thinks she is invincible. Because of this, Rachelle lowers her guard around the forestborn, she takes off her cloak with the protective charms, and she is marked.
Once a forestborn marks you, you have three days to kill someone or you will die yourself. After you kill, you become a bloodbound. Eventually, your human heart will burn out and you become a forestborn. After resisting for three days, Rachelle kills her Aunt Leonie, the woodwife who was training her and the person she loved most.
Because of the guilt, she fled to the city of Rocamadour and joined the King's band of bloodbounds. While at the castle one day, Rachelle saves a young man from assassins. She is disgusted to find out that she saved Armand, one of the King's bastard children. Armand was marked by a forestborn but refused to kill anyone. After the three days, he didn't die. The forestborn cut of his hands but let him live. The people see him as a saint, someone who resisted the temptations of the Forest. Rachelle resents the implication that she didn't have to kill her aunt after all, that if she had been stronger she could have kept from becoming a bloodbound. She also detests his decadent silver hands and the saintly image that she sees as tricking the people. Imagine how upset she becomes when the King appoints her to guard the saint.
Meanwhile, the forestborn who marked Rachelle informs her that the Devourer (Master of forestborns, once ate the sun and the moon, will plunge the world into eternal darkness) will return soon. She has to hurry and find Joyeuse (A legendary sword made from the bone of a prince who once slayed the Devourer) before that happens.
The more time that Rachelle spends with Armand, the less she hates him. She starts to see the ways his father uses him as a pawn, how uncomfortable he is with his saint title. She also sees him answer her insults with a smile and they become friendly. Poor Rachelle is used to people resenting her for being a bloodborn, and used to feeling as though she deserves it for what she did. Armand and her friend Amelie (A young girl whose father was a bloodborn; she helps Rachelle with clothes and makeup while Rachelle guards Armand) don't treat her like a bloodborn. They notice how she does her best to save as many people as possible and see the good in her.
Can Rachelle find Joyeuse in time? Will she be able to defeat the Devourer? What is going on between her and Armand? Will she have the strength to defeat the Devourer if it means losing him?
I'm sorry if my review is confusing. It really is a great book, though the various characters and things make it a little hard to describe succinctly. I particularly liked the story of Tyr and Zisa, the last ones to fight the Devourer, woven in with the main story. Rachelle was an awesome, ass-kicking heroine. Rosamund Hodge's books seem to just get better and better. I can't wait for the next one.
I received my copy of Crimson Bound from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. It's available for purchase now.