Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
After reading some of its raving reviews, seeing the purdy cover and reading the prologue, I was syperhyped about Crimson Bound. The previous three or four books I’ve read weren’t the best picks, so you can imagine my excitement on finally starting something awesome again. Alas…it turned out to be quite a dissapointment. In fact, I’m not even sure on how to rate it apart from ‘somewhere between one and three stars’.
Alright, it’s going to have to be more than one star, because let’s face it, the prologue was amazing.
It all starts with the depiction of a mythical world wherein woodwives weave charms to protect people from the Great Forest and the Devourer, god of the forestborn. A long, long time ago, over three thousand years to be exact, the Devourer ruled the world in darkness after eating up the sun and the moon. Humans were being hunted down in the Great Forest by the forestborn, superhuman creatures created by and in service of the Devourer. Then, those three thousand years ago, his ruling came to an end after two of the Royal children bound him and put the moon and sun back in their places. Now, the binding is wearing off and the Devourer will soon awaken again and the world shall turn back into darkness. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Bear with me.
Rachelle lives with her Aunt Léonie (the whole setting is French by the way with French names for everything) in a cottage outside of a village. Aunt Léonie is going to train Rachelle to become the village’s next woodwife after her. This is the part where it becomes clear this story is loosely based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Rachelle has been told to NOT stray from the path or take off her red cloak, because she won’t be protected against an encounter with a forestborn anymore. Of course, when she hears a voice say “Good afternoon, little girl.”, it doesn’t take long for her to stray from the path. And take off her cloak. The forestborn (wolf) doesn’t kill her, but marks her. Every human marked by a forestborn becomes bloodbound and has to kill another person within three days or die themselves. Still pretty awesome huh?
So Rachelle ends up killing Aunt Léonie and becomes a full bloodbound. In terror of what she has done and become, she flees to the King’s castle (château) and joins his bloodbound guard, led by Erec D’Anjou, who is obviously a bloodbound himself. Every bloodbound is in the grip of the Great Forest and one day will give into it completely, lose its heart and soul and turn into a forestborn, born to hunt, kill and dance. Rachelle doesn’t want to become a forestborn and is struggling with it on a daily basis.
We then meet Armand, one of the King’s illegitimate sons who apparently encountered a forestborn and survived its mark without killing anyone. He did get his hands chopped off, however, and has two hands made out of silver now to replace them. People worship him like a saint, because he survived the mark and Rachelle gets the order to protect him from any assasins by being his personal bodyguard. And this is where the story goes downhill (for me at least). The dialogues between the two of them are irritatingly bland. The dialogues between any of the characters are mostly irritatingly bland. Or maybe bland isn’t the right word. Irritatingly rigid is more like it; I felt like I was watching a High school play most of the time and the characters were just really crappy actors.
Because of this and a general lack of personality when it comes to the characters, I just couldn’t invest myself in them. Rachelle’s a girl with strong clues of Borderline syndrom, Erec’s a grinning bad ass and Armand can’t make up his mind, so decides to just do wry things with his mouth. Amélie felt like a filler character with no real purpose except for tying a few knots together in the story line and making us see Rachelle’s human side. Judging by the roller coaster of emotions Rachelle was going through all the time, I didn’t need any more proof of her being human. The only character that didn’t remind me of a bad soap opera was La Fontaine. Too bad her role in the book wasn’t bigger.
Now for the next point of criticism; I don’t know if it was my uncorrected version, but there was lot of redundancy in there. I can’t find a nice example of it now, but I’ll be sure to start marking these things in the future, so I can add them in my reviews. For this one, it went something like this: “Rachelle could feel the Forest growing” and then one paragraph later she would say something like “I can feel the Forest growing” to herself. Because you know, things aren’t real unless you say them out loud?
Back to the storyline in general. To me it felt rushed and drawn out at the same time. First Rachelle spends whole chapters on trying to find a sword (which becomes dreadfully boring after awhile) but then wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am! There’s a new chapter which starts somewhere else all of a sudden and lots of action is cramped up into a few pages, leaving me with a “Huh, what just happened??”- kind of feeling.
The fighting scenes are alright I suppose, but the unexpected amount of gory blood spatter action is…well, pretty damn sweet actually!
Even though it’s originally based on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, I also recognised two other fairytales in the story: ‘Hansel and Gretel'( “In the darkest shadows of the wood stands a house”…”Within that bloody house lived Old Mother Hunger.”…”So they placed him in the deepest cellar of the house, within a little cage of bone”…”Every time they brought him food, before he could eat, he must first sing a song to them”) and ‘Snow White'( “Bring me the hearts of your father and mother”…”Zisa cut out the hearts of her mother and father and put them in a silver chest”). Maybe it’s just me, but I thought the resemblences were uncanny.
My end conclusion for Crimson Bound: all in all I can say that the premise was excellent, but the execution of it really lacked some depth and well, fun (apart from the gory blood spatter action). 2.5 brownies it is.