Tag: Refreshing

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.

 


B. A. Paris – The Break Down | Review

Title: The Break Down

Author: B. A. Paris

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 432

Rating: 4/5

I normally find thriller novels pretty hit and miss, but I’ve quite enjoyed what I’ve read of B. A. Paris so far. I might even be slightly more kindly disposed towards her because I was sent a copy of Behind Closed Doors, her first novel, ahead of its publication.

I think part of it is the fact that her writing just feels a little more polished to me. There’s a sort of style of writing that’s pretty common amongst thriller writers that just grates on me somehow, a way with words that just feels clunky and which pulls me out of the story. That doesn’t seem to happen with B. A. Paris.

Still, it wasn’t flawless. One of my biggest problems with it was a scene in which a group of French students steal a phone and then give it to the main character. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil things for you, but it was kind of a Deus Ex Machina kind of thing where it all just felt too coincidental. And if it hadn’t happened, the whole story couldn’t have taken place.

Overall though, I did enjoy reading this, and I was particularly impressed by how gripping it was. I found it difficult to put down, and there wasn’t a slowdown in the story towards the middle, which I find is pretty typical in thriller novels. I think it probably also helped that it did some fun stuff with layout towards the end as we start to see a series of text messages, and this meant that the page was broken up and you could whizz through a dozen pages in just a couple of minutes. I think that layout might annoy some people, but not me.

So would I recommend The Break Down? Absolutely. It’s a refreshing little read in a genre that’s been done to death. In fact, I think that most people would probably enjoy it even if they don’t consider themselves to be thriller readers, and that’s saying something. It’s just pretty approachable, and it does a great job of the whole “twist” thing, to the point at which you could probably re-read it and still enjoy it because you’d start to look for the clues.

Now that I’ve enjoyed both this book and Behind Closed Doors, I think we can safely say that I’m a fan of B. A. Paris, and I’ll definitely check out more stuff.

Learn more about The Break Down.