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?
A lush, richly woven tale which combines elements of Little Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands to create a unique story with fairy tale elements, albeit with a rather dark atmosphere.
This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.
Rachelle is a bloodbound – as a fifteen year old, she strayed from the path in the woods and encountered a terrifying creature out of legend known as a forestborn – once marked, she had three days in which to kill someone, else suffer a terrible death. Now bound to this creature of evil, she fights on behalf of the king, protecting civilians from other monstrous creatures emerging from the all powerful Great Forest, in an effort to atone for her past misdeeds.
However, Rachelle ends up ordered to protect one of the king’s heirs, a maimed son named Armand, who is viewed as a saint by the local populace after encountering a Forest Born but resisting its curse. Discontent is rife across the realm, the Great Forest is rapidly encroaching, and the evil that lurks within threatens to plunge Rachelle’s world into darkness. Armand might just be the key to prevent the impending disaster, but with conflicting loyalties, secrets and fragile trust, the path to redemption is fraught with difficulties.
Rachelle is a conflicted character – she wants desperately to live, but is aware of the inevitable fate that awaits her and believes she is beyond redemption, as much as she attempts to rectify her past sins. As a bloodbound, she is strong, violent and perfectly adept at killing and hurting when required.
“Do you really think I dragged you out here to kill you? I’d get into trouble for that, and you’re not worth it.”
He laughed. It was a curiously open laugh, his shoulders shaking and his eyes crinkling. “You’re very comforting.”
“No,” said Rachelle, “just honest. If I were trying to comfort you, I would promise not to hurt you.”
She has a strong grip on her humanity, however, with intense feelings of compassion and love for those around her, guilt at what she has done, and hurt when the inevitable betrayal occurs. For all intents and purposes, she retains her human heart.
Armand was the one who knew how to speak, anyway. He smiled and turned his words into knives that sliced out answers and distinctions. She was just the girl who plunged blindly ahead and doomed herself doing it.
The love element is a slow burn, and I appreciate the role reversal, with a strong, almost vicious woman, and a man with a physical impairment who is the one requiring protection. It is by no means a smooth journey, but there is respect and tenderness amongst the obstacles thrown their way.
“But some of the ladies wouldn’t stop talking about my marvellous virtue. I got a little tired of it.”
“So you needed defilement?” she asked.
Initially, I ended up a little confused with regards to the mythology, but it wasn’t enough to lesson my enjoyment of the book and eventually things all made sense.
Rachelle wanted to snarl ‘I’d rather kiss a forestborn’, but anger would just amuse him. Would just amuse everyone, because anger was funny when it couldn’t be backed up by strength, especially when it was the anger of a stupid little girl from the northern forest.
With gorgeous prose, along with magical elements, larger than life characters, and deliciously dark overtones, Crimson Bound is an exquisite read that will have you wondering all the while exactly how things will end when the situation seems so dire.
When Rachelle saw herself wearing it in the mirror, she felt beautiful. And glorious. And like a warrior who had the chance to win. And none of that mattered next to knowing that every inch of her body had been decorated by somebody who loved her.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may change prior to publication.