"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.
(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)"
Crimson Bound is unfortunately not part of Cruel Beauty's world. That is a shame. Though it would be greatly interesting, if it was.
Rachelle is our heroine. As the sole narrator, she is also Red Riding Hood of the fairy tale, "Red Riding Hood." Now, I don't read "Red Riding Hood" very frequently (it isn't on my list of "fairy tales to read again and again") but I do remember it for its perversion and creepiness (aka old guys leering at young girls). (Sorry, about the bluntness. I'm not having a good day, and I'm not in the mood for sugarcoating.) Strong and complicated, Rachelle is my favorite kind of heroine. She isn't afraid of dark things, and she is definitely the wolf. Well, she is one of the wolves, and she is someone to be scared of.
(In fact, if I want to be scary, I would be Rachelle. She is much more scarier than Nix of Cruel Beauty. Much more scary. She is like a living, walking, breathing nightmare. A wolf among a world of sheeps.)
Armand is disabled. I'm actually quite surprised by this turnabout, but okay. He is a very decent guy, and he is an interesting character. He has a great and fresh spark with Rachelle, and even though it takes some warming up to adjust to their bantering, it is quite pleasing (though not swoony like Cruel Beauty's plentiful banter and sass).
The villain, the wolf of the retelling, is definitely an interesting character whose slyness and cunningness certainly entertains me. He isn't the main villain, but he is one of the Big Bads. Rather human though also crazy (I mean, in a serial killer way), the wolf is always hidden in the shadows. His real identity might surprise some readers.
The plot moves quickly, and even though the beginning is somewhat dizzy and confusing, it is easy to jump into Crimson Bound. The story goes by quickly, and nothing doesn't stop until the very end. The ending is one of the best parts, actually. (Though I won't tell you any spoilers. Sorry, but this is a standalone.)
In conclusion, Crimson Bound is an exciting and interesting standalone and retelling of "Red Riding Hood." With a dangerous warrior and two love interests, the book is full of twists and turns. Set in a fantasy world, the story brings great darkness and strangely, hope.
Rating: Four out of Five