Tag: Reviewers

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.

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood | Review

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 394

Rating: 4*/5


Haruki Murakami - Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood


Norwegian Wood is an interesting one, because it’s one of the few ‘bestsellers‘ that I’ve read of late that have actually lived up to the title. The author does a great job of blending different influences together while forging ahead with his own voice, and the result is the sort of book that captures the spirit of a generation – in this book, the 1960s – while simultaneously standing up proud as a story of its own.

Loosely speaking, it’s all about the relationships between a group of friends and acquaintances in Japan during the swinging sixties. A lot of ‘foreignbooks (I wrote it like that because ‘foreign’ is a relative term) have a habit of over-taxing the brain – it can often be difficult to differentiate between places and character names when they come from an unfamiliar language. But that’s not the case here – it feels like a town you grew up in, or like revisiting the corridors in the secondary school you attended.

It’s also noteworthy because it brings the past and the present together in a story that’s relatable for people of all ages and from all generations. I also think it has the potential to stand the test of time, although I disagree with a few of the reviewers who called Murakami one of the world’s greatest living novelists. There are better living novelists, but there aren’t too many of them, and Murakami is certainly very good at what he does.


Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami


Then there’s the age-old problem of trying to figure out how much of the credit should go to the author and how much should go to the translator. In this case, it appears as though both of them have done a fine job of things, and I’d certainly put this book in the top 5% of the contemporary fiction that comes out. But the top 1%? That’s a tough one.

Overall though, you’d be crazy not to recommend this, and you’d be crazy not to read it, too. There’s a lot to be said for it, and the characters are not just relatable – they’re also memorable, and that’s often, sadly, a rarity. But in this case, Murakami does a good job of things, and the result is this – a little gem of a novel.


Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami


Click here to buy Norwegian Wood.