Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review: Crimson Bound

Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: May 5, 2015

A Quick Introduction: Three years ago, Rachelle was training to protect her village from the creeping darkness of the Forest. She was, until a reckless meeting with one of the sinister Forestborn bound her to the Forest and stained her hands with innocent blood. Rachelle is still trying to atone, all the while knowing that time grows short- both for her and for the world. In a desperate attempt to stop the spread of the Forest, Rachelle allies herself with the King's son to search for a sword so long lost that it has passed into myth.

Out of Ten: 5/10

Review at a Glance: An interesting enough world, but Red Riding Hood-inspired story suffered from less-than-engaging characters and slightly fumbling plot structure.

Review: It appears that Rosamund Hodge specializes in writing heroines with dark pasts and dark futures who I am not able to connect to. I had the same problem when I read and reviewed Cruel Beauty last year.

The setting is inspired by France, where the story of Red Riding Hood originated (Crimson Bound is very loosely based on Red Riding Hood). The scenes at court and in the Forest are vivid and interesting, and the world itself had enough unique elements that it felt original, despite its French influences.

Where this book fell down for me was in its magic system and characters. While the day-to-day and visual components of the world were clear, how and why the magic worked wasn't. This made a lot of the events that moved the plot along feel too convenient and a little forced, and made the ending difficult to follow.

The characters themselves were the other point where this book failed for me. I mentioned that Rosamund Hodge's heroines aren't characters that I really don't connect to. Their emotions just don't feel real to me, and the seem to go through the same realisation four or five times without ever really facing it. This was a little frustrating for me, and I found the motivations of the other characters hard to understand at times. I also found that the author falls back on the same tropes that were present in Cruel Beauty, in a slightly different arrangement. There was a lot going on in this book, and, without investment in the characters, I found it difficult to keep track of the nuances.

I'm still unable to tell if certain events were foreshadowed and I missed it, or if they just weren't foreshadowed at all. This ties in to how I mentioned that elements of the plot and ending felt too convenient, precisely because they felt like they came out of nowhere. The writing was nice, but it wasn't anything that blew me away. I appreciated some of the turns of phrase, but it wasn't enough to make me really interested in the book.

Overall, this book was just fine. The world and story had potential, but I struggled with some aspects of the execution, and it kept me from really investing in the story.

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