Tag: Common

Bridget Collins – The Binding | Review

Title: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 440

Rating: 3.75/5

I’m naturally a little biased in favour towards this book because it was a gift from my girlfriend, who read it first and highly rated it and then passed it on to me when she was done. I can see why she gave it to me, because it’s a very “bookish” book with a magic system that essentially revolves around the physical act of creating and binding books.

It’s quite a hard book to categorise, but I guess I’d go with a sort of literary fantasy. It reminds me of a bunch of different things, perhaps most notably Frances Hardinge, but it also has its own refreshing feel while still observing a ton of common tropes. I feel like we see a lot of books like this on the market, but it’s rare for one of them to be this good.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot. I think that books have the equivalent of a mouth-feel, something that food reviewers often talk about and which essentially describes how pleasurable it is to chew a given piece of food. I think books have an equivalent, a sort of unexplainable sensation  that they generate somewhere inside you. Here, it has a hell of a good mouth-feel.

I also like the magic system here, which basically revolved around book binding. The binders have the ability to extract memories and to bind them into books, a bit like the literary equivalent of chugging a glass of mind bleach. The problem is that as so often happens, the magic is being abused.

In fact, there are trigger warnings here for sexual abuse, although I thought it was well done for whatever my opinion is worth. The problem is that there are a lot of rich old bastards who are doing things they shouldn’t be doing and using their money to cover it up, which is an all-too familiar story. The only difference is that here, they can go one step further than buying people’s silence. Here, their money can ensure that the victims of horrific wrongs end up forgetting all about it.

It’s pretty chilling really, and I think what this book does well is that it asks these uncomfortable questions and reflects our own world while still telling an overall story. It doesn’t tell you what to think, it just held up a mirror to our own world. One of the reviews on the dust jacket calls it an experience, and I think that’s about right. It’s some absorbing, impressive stuff, all right.

Learn more about The Binding.

 


Peter James – Faith | Review

Title: Faith

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 470

Rating: 3/5

This is another one of James’ lesser hits, which is kind of unsurprising because I’ve never found his standalones to be particularly strong. I guess I’m a Roy Grace fan more than a Peter James fan, although I am still slowly but surely working my way through everything he’s written. It’s just that this definitely isn’t at his best in this one.

Part of that is probably because of the characters. We’re mostly focusing on a manipulative plastic surgeon and his doormat wife, who he basically uses as a walking portfolio. Bad things start to happen to them, but really who cares? If anything, the fun in this story comes from watching their lives slowly fall apart.

Other than that, there’s not a great deal to say about this one. It’s a pretty competent thriller I guess, but I don’t really have much time for competent thrillers because there are so many of them out there and they’re all basically the same. In fact, by the time I was a third of the way through this, I was asking myself why I was still reading. But I’m a completionist and I’m trying to work my way through everything that Peter James ever wrote, and so I had to keep on keeping on anyway or my brain would have hated me.

And that brings us on to something of a problem for me, which is that I need to write another 200 words to finish off this review. But there’s just not much to say, to the point at which my favourite characters were some of the minor ones who didn’t really get as much air time as I think they deserved.

What more can I say? It was competent but not for me, and I feel as though even if you are going to read Peter James, you shouldn’t start with this one. Read some of the Roy Grace books instead, or if you’re not into crime then perhaps it’s worth checking out The House on Cold Hill. I think that one’s even been turned into a stage play, which could be worth checking out.

So would I recommend this one? Not really, I’m afraid. It was just a bit of a filler read for me, and I’m hoping that the next one that I pick up will be more memorable. I can’t say that this was awful or anything like that, but I do think that if you ask me about it in six months, I won’t remember a thing. That’s actually surprisingly common and it’s hardly the first time I’ll have read a book and immediately forgotten it. Shame it happened with an author that I actually quite like though, but eh.

Learn more about Faith.