Whimsical Retelling | Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Friday, October 21, 2022

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 5/5/15
Pages: 448
Source: purchased
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?
Rachelle is a promising apprentice for her aunt; one day she will rid the world of its evil. In pure curiosity, she challenges one of the Forest-bound, the beasts of the wood, to outwit in order to gain secrets about the world she has vowed to save. Instead, the beast catches her and she transitions into what she has feared all her life. Despite her form, Rachelle must stop the evil from consuming the world or die trying. Crimson Bound is a whimsical retelling of the classic tale of Red Riding Hood.

Red Riding Hood

  • After Cruel Beauty, I was expecting to be blown out of the water yet again. I’m not too fond of Red Riding Hood retellings. Ever since Catherine Hardwick directed that movie, I’ve seen an overabundance of retellings of the story that are all too much alike. The red cloak, Grandma, the wolf, the love triangle. Please, stop. Despite my qualms about Red Riding Hood retellings in general, I had high expectations going into this one. I loved Cruel Beauty, where Hodge took a magnificent tale and made it entirely her own. I expected Crimson Bound to be similar, in it being unique and gorgeous. 
  • Red Riding Hood is relatively simple tale. Give it to Rosamund Hodge and she throws a highly complicated tale back at you that barely resembles that of Red Riding Hood. The similarities are so far and few in between that Crimson Bound should be seen not as a retelling but as its own story. Hodge took the dark side of the fairytale and transformed it into her own.
  • Rachelle, our very own Red Riding Hood, is courageous and strong. She’s a very curious character, a character who wholeheartedly believes she is doomed to hell. This makes her reactions hard to connect and relate to. Her back story is interesting, enough to keep me going, but her doubts are maddening. I was back and forth with her from being annoyed to rooting for her.

Slow Trek Through the Woods

  • The plot is incredibly slow, with a complicated set up of fantastical creatures: bloodbound, forestborn and the Devourer. I definitely wanted a bit more back story—a longer introduction to the world building that most definitely fell a bit short. 
  • It dramatically picks up towards the end of the book. Somehow at that point of the story, you will get sucked in without even realizing it. I never connected to the protagonist, but the story itself pulled me in, refusing to let me go. Emotions ran deep and Hodge doesn’t mind breaking our hearts. 

In the Forest

  • The woods take on a personality of its own. The visual aspect of the forest is certainly to be expected from the amazing writer, Rosamund Hodge. She grips you from the very first page.  Eyes widening, heart pounding. It’s difficult to do that in just one page, let alone just one paragraph but she accomplishes this and so much more in the span of the book.
  • Despite the storyline not competing well with Cruel Beauty, the book is still written very well. The action sequences are absolutely gorgeous, blurring the lines between the characters’ beliefs and what is right or wrong.  Also, it is undeniably unpredictable. You will never see what is coming and what Hodge has in store for you.
  • The imagery is incredibly beautiful and highly visual. The idea of having an invisible red thread attached to your finger is not a new concept as I have come across it in an array of folklore. However, I think Hodge has morphed the concept, woven it into her story seamlessly as if it is a part of her world.
  • I wouldn’t have put it past Hodge to kill everyone off in the end. From where the story was headed, I was certainly ready for it. As much as the ending could have been dragged out a little longer—I wanted to see Rachelle recover and I would have loved to know what had happened to the other characters—the ending leaves you content.


Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge brings a tale of shadows to light in a fantastical retelling of Red Riding Hood. Despite my crushed high expectations, Crimson Bound does have its surprising charms within the gorgeous images of the living forest and the country palace. The world building, however, does fall short but what it lacks in the world, it makes up for in the end by action. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge makes sure you will not make a journey into the woods alone anytime soon.

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