Image: Simon & Schuster
Let me start by saying Nicholas Wolff’s The Binding wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The use of phrases like “walking corpse syndrome” and “spreading plague” in the blurb gives prospective readers the impression that the plot revolves around some kind of pandemic; however while Wolff’s book does feature zombies of sorts, these in no way resemble the shambling corpses of The Walking Dead.
The Binding could be more accurately described as the kind of small town supernatural horror story perfected by Stephen King, with a healthy dose of crime procedural thrown in. According to his author bio, Nicholas Wolff is a pseudonym, so I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that prior to trying his (or her) hand at horror, Wolff was known for writing best-selling murder mysteries.
While The Binding is an interesting read with some genuinely creepy moments, it felt disjointed in places. Aside from the at times awkward mix of supernatural horror and realistic murder investigation, much of the plot hinges on a romance that seems to come out of left field, making it feel both uncomfortably one-sided and more inappropriate than the author intended.
That said, it’s still worth checking out if you’re a fan of atmospheric supernatural mysteries. I particularly enjoyed the ambiguity surrounding Nat’s diagnosis of Cotard Delusion (a rare psychiatric disorder in which sufferers believe they are already dead). It reminded me of one of my favourite horror books of last year, Paul Tremblay’s excellent A Head Full of Ghosts, which also centred on a teenage girl whose increasingly disturbing behaviour could be explained in both clinical and supernatural ways.
The Binding by Nicholas Wolff is now available for pre-order and will be published by Gallery Books on June 28, 2016.
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.