Tag: Opinion

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.

 


H. P. Lovecraft – The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror | Review

Title: The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror

Author: H. P. Lovecraft

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 256

Rating: 4/5

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room in the form of Lovecraft’s concerning personal beliefs. I’m of the opinion that you can separate the art from the artist, especially when the artist is dead, but I also know that that’s not true for everyone.

I’ve only read one Lovecraft book before and so I’m still relatively new to his work, and I can’t quite decide what I think of him. There are times when his stories are fantastic and they more than live up to the hype, and then there are times when… well, maybe not so much.

For example, there’s a story here that Lovecraft ghostwrote for Harry Houdini, and while the story behind the story is pretty interesting, the story itself isn’t great. I think if you didn’t know it was ghostwritten, you’d believe that Houdini wrote it – but then, Houdini wasn’t known for being a writer.

The title story in this collection was fantastic though, and it was made even more interesting because I was talking to somebody about it and they’d done an adaptation of it. There are only around six stories in here and so you could probably ask for more, but they are at least pretty chunky and so there’s a bunch for you to enjoy here. I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re interested.

Learn more about The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror.

 


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