Tag: Magic

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.

 


Stephen King – Insomnia | Review

TitleInsomnia
Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 760

Rating: 3.25/5

 

 

I have pretty mixed feelings about this book, because there were elements and themes to it which I liked but it was also pretty boring in places. There were also some unusual formatting elements being used to convey psychic conversations that made it a little harder/more involved to read it, as well as tiny print and super thin pages that sometimes made the actual book difficult to hold.

This is definitely not one that you should read if you’re new to King, and there’s a very specific reason for that. It has some heavy tie-ins with the Dark Tower series, including a cameo from Roland and references to ka-tets and a whole section named after the Crimson King. The stakes are high, too. If the life of a certain child isn’t saved, the Tower will fall down.

If all of that means something to you, you’re probably ready to read this book. If not, maybe leave it for a while, especially because it was the lore and the tie-ins with the multiverse which made this worth reading, at least in my opinion. Other than that, it was pretty dull, although it wasn’t as tedious of a read as Bag of Bones. It was also confusing at times, but there were at least these little periods here and there where it sort of managed to reabsorb me again.

 

 

I was also kind of disappointed with the fact that insomnia itself didn’t really play a major part in the story line. It was more as though it was the inciting incident and then the rest of the story just went off on a tangent with almost Donnie Darko vibes when it comes to how the protagonists could see auras and influence people and the events that were happening. That was all fine, but as an actual insomniac, I was kind of hoping to see more from that.

It also felt as though the pacing was off, with a little too much worldbuilding for my taste. The only saving grace there was that it was set in Derry, Maine, one of King’s most iconic settings, and so it was good to get a little extra background information. It stopped me caring too much about whether the plot was going anywhere because I was just happy to be there.

Then, when the plot did go places, it quite often took off like a rocket, hooking me in for fifty pages or so before it went back to not much happening. Then it was followed up by what felt like a rushed epilogue with a pretty cliché ending, but then I suppose King isn’t really known for having the best endings anyway. I think if anything, it just ran out of steam, and when you consider that it was written across a three year period, perhaps that’s understandable.

 

Stephen King

Stephen King

 

There’s just something missing here, that magic spark that King’s work sometimes has. I think different people experience his different books in different ways, and there’s a risk that sometimes with his longer work, if the book doesn’t connect with you, it ends up feeling like a chore. This one wasn’t quite a chore, but it also wasn’t far off it, and if it had been another hundred pages or so I think I would have given up and switched it out as a bedtime book.

My experience then was mostly positive, but I don’t think I’d be in any hurry to pick it up again for a re-read unless there was some big reason for it. I think one time was enough, and it pretty much ranks towards the lower middle of the list of King books that I’ve read so far, which is most of them. It’s just okay, nothing more nor less than that, and while I’m definitely glad that I read it, I’m also glad that it’s over and I don’t need to pick it up again. So yeah.

 

Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote

 

Click here to buy Insomnia.

 


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