Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.
Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.
It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.
Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?
Thank you again to HarperCollins for an e-copy of this book – the following opinions are my own.
To be completely honest, I am struggling to sum up what was this story all about. Yes, get ready for another of my unpopular opinion. Anna has magic, but her aunt forbids her to use it. Instead, she keeps teaching her the dangers and the darkness of using magic. In the meantime, six faceless women are mysteriously hanged outside Westminster in London. Then, Anna meets Effie and Attis, who have joined her school, and she starts experimenting with the limits of her magic on a road to discovering more about herself and her past.
I think, this was the first time a book actually triggered me. Let me take a step back. This book starts with very dark tones, with the description of Anna’s relationship with her manipulative aunt. It’s clear that it’s an abusive relationship, physically and verbally, and her aunt uses magic to punish Anna. She takes every single opportunity to demonstrate how useless and worthless Anna is, the danger of magic and love. However, there were some dynamics and dialogues between the two of them (I’m not talking about the magic stuff, of course) that had many similarities with my personal life experience. This is not in any way the writer’s fault, but every time there were parts with Anna and her aunt, the whole reading experience became distressing for me.
I considered giving up reading this book. Then, the story suddenly changed the narrative and I decided to give it another chance. The problem is that, in the beginning of this story, the writer sets an atmosphere that was supposed to be for an adult reader. Then, it goes into the high school life of Anna, with its dramas, with scenes that reminded me of The Craft, but more juvenile, and this book suddenly becomes a YA fantasy book and boring.
I honestly wouldn’t have picked up a book about the high school life of a sixteen-year-old girl, as it clearly does not resonate with me. The whole school coven and Anna’s high school life drag on and on, with few occasional magic-related events, with this mysterious murder of the six faceless women still in background, literally going nowhere. It became an alternation of distressing and boring moments, adult fantasy and young adult fantasy genre.
The only problem is that I actually thought that as YA, this book is projecting a very negative image of sex, which (thank gosh I am not a mother) I would never want my daughter to read. I also thought from the very beginning that the relationship between Anna and Selene, her aunt’s friend, was quite ambiguous. It seemed sometimes sapphic, and not “mother/guardian” and daughter, so I’m not even sure if this is what the writer wanted to achieve.
The last 15% is where all is revealed, with very weird supernatural stuff that brings back the book to the adult fantasy genre and I am still here wondering about those faceless women and their purpose. It has an open ending, as I guess things will continue in book two, but I won’t be reading it. And for the sake of honesty, I admit I skimmed throughout the end, if I missed something I apologise. I am still super grateful to the publisher for this opportunity, but unfortunately, this was not for me.