Title: The Binding
Author: Bridget Collins
Page Count: 440
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.