Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeCrimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 5, 2015
Pages: 448
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

I had the most frustrating love/hate relationship with this book imaginable – More so than with any book I’ve read recently. One minute, I wanted to DNF; the next, I felt the book was picking up and getting better. The back-and-forth of those two sentiments was so frequent, I sometimes felt like a ping pong ball! The plot was intriguing, but the pacing was slow and I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters (though some of them had their moments). Yet there was something about this book that kept me reading. I’m not sure what or why or how, but for whatever reason – and despite it taking eight days for me to finish the book – I kept pushing until the very last page.

I didn’t like nor dislike Rachelle; however, as silly as this is, I kept tripping over the pronunciation of her name and it slowed me down and really annoyed me. I know, I know, that’s REALLY silly, but.. I can’t help it! I also didn’t like nor dislike Armand, though I didn’t appreciate the insta-love between him and Rachelle. I don’t mind insta-love when it’s well-done, but I just felt like it wasn’t believable – at least, not in the beginning. If it had happened a bit slower, I think I would have liked it more. I could see the potential chemistry between Armand and Rachelle, but I didn’t see it when the insta-love first started to kick in.

I adored Erec in the beginning – he and Rachelle had a hilarious rapport. However, by the end… Gah! I can’t go into detail because of spoilers but… While I wasn’t surprised with the way Erec’s story ended, I was definitely a bit upset! On the flip-side, I really liked Amelie! I actually liked her more than Rachelle! There were a ton of other secondary characters, but none were memorable or notable. However, the one intriguing thing about the characters in this book (even the ones I didn’t care for as much)? They all reminded me of the “wolf grandmother” from the original Little Red Riding Hood, in that everyone had secrets and no one was who you thought they were. So that kept me guessing/on the edge of my seat a bit.

My biggest issue with this book (besides not connecting with the characters) was the fact that, in the beginning of the book, we were thrown into the world and we were hit with a lot of terminology. I was honestly so confused, I didn’t understand what was going on at all. I think if I re-read the book, I would understand it a LOT better. But just based on the first read, I was totally lost for at least half the book and that was super frustrating.

Finally, as someone who read Cruel Beauty, I can say that, though I liked the fairy tale and Greek myth that Cruel Beauty was based on a whole lot more than I did the fairy tale that Crimson Bound was based on, I still found Crimson Bound to be a lot better than Cruel Beauty. With Crimson Bound, I was more intrigued by the plot and more invested in the characters. That’s still not saying much, since I spent a great deal of this book debating whether or not I should DNF. But I still enjoyed it more than Cruel Beauty, overall.

I also want to point out that Fairy Tale Retellings and Greek Mythology retellings are my Book Drug of Choice. They’re my absolute favorite thing in the world!!! So the fact that I didn’t enjoy this (or Cruel Beauty) as much as I had hoped is.. Well, disappointing, to say the least. However, Rosamund Hodge is such a GORGEOUS writer! Her writing is smooth and melodic and it just sucks you right in! Her writing, more than anything, kept me from DNFing Crimson Bound (and, back when I read it, Cruel Beauty). It was just… beautiful. And for that reason alone, she’s staying on my To Read list for all future books – I’m beyond excited for her new 2016 release, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire!!

So if you loved Cruel Beauty, I definitely recommend Crimson Bound. Or if you love Fairy Tale Retellings or, specifically, Little Red Riding Hood, I say give this book a chance! You might enjoy what I didn’t and you might fall in love with the characters and plot.


Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

With a plot that is Beauty & The Beast meets Greek Mythology, I went into Cruel Beauty assuming I would love it. Unfortunately, I was very on the fence with this book and, even now that I’ve finished it, I’m still on the fence with it. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. I found it fascinating and intriguing, yet it was repetitive, boring and slow. Almost everything in this book had a love it/hate it contradiction.

Let’s start with Nyx. I liked her in the beginning because of her name. Right off the bat, we get a connection to Greek Mythology. She had a spunky attitude and was pretty hilarious. She didn’t fully accept her fate, but she also didn’t turn and run from it. Her banter with Ignifex was pretty hysterical and she was constantly hitting him and throwing things at him, trying to kill him – I was laughing out loud at several points throughout the book. On the other hand, Nyx was very whiny and bratty. She had a LOT of inner monologue going on and it got very repetitive – obnoxiously repetitive. Sometimes she played the victim, other times she seemed brainwashed. I just couldn’t follow her. I didn’t connect with her and I felt very distanced from her.

Ignifex was hilarious. I think he was my favorite character. His humor, his personality, his attitude. I just loved him. I don’t think we were supposed to love him, especially in the beginning. But, nevertheless, I did. Shade though… I think we WERE supposed to love Shade. He was supposed to be seen as the “Good Guy,” but I just never trusted him completely. And then the end of the book was… Well.. Whoa. This never felt like a love triangle, but if it HAD been, it would have been one twisted love triangle! Because.. Well.. Read it and you’ll see. I can’t explain without a spoiler.

The middle section of Cruel Beauty definitely picked up speed. The first 8-11 chapters are slow, boring, repetitive – as I mentioned earlier. But the middle picked up and I found it to be very interesting, with some great revelations. The ending was just.. Really confusing and weird and I still don’t know how I feel about it. It had me distrusting so many characters that I really couldn’t make any sense of it. I definitely feel like this book is one that needs to be read twice so that you can catch things you missed the first time around. I feel like a second read would make a LOT of things easier to understand.

There were some other characters that I should mention, but I also feel it’s hard to mention them without getting spoiler-ish – like Nyx’s sister, father and aunt. And a certain character we meet at the absolute end – I can’t even name that character cause.. Well, total spoiler. But, mostly, we’re only made to really care about Nyx, Ignifex and Shade – And of those three, really, we learn the most about Nyx and Ignifex, so there isn’t much to say about the other character’s anyway.

Overall, I’m completely torn on how I feel about this book. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it. I’d still recommend it to those who love Fairy Tale retellings or Greek Mythology, but it’s not something I would pick up again.