Pages: 436 pages
Published: April 16, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Fiction & Literature, Romance, Historical, Literary
Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.
But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.
What if books, instead of being loved and adored, they are feared and abhorred? Bridget Collins leads readers on a beautiful and fantastic ride that takes the idea of loving books in a whole opposite direction.
Emmet Farmer has always been drawn to book. Unfortunately, this pleasurable activity is forbidden. But that doesn’t stop Emmet from being pulled into their world, especially when he starts his apprenticeship as a bookbinder, under an old woman named Seredith. But Seredith reveals Emmett’s true nature: he is a binder born, a magical creature that “captures” memories, places them in a leather-bound book while erasing them from a person’s mind. Dark secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. Emmett becomes a true artisan under Seredith’s tutelage…until he discovers a book with his name on it. From then on, he is lead on a path that leads him to discover the true meaning of his power and have him not only rewrite his past, but also his future.
Making books and reading forbidden in a story was such a creative and “out of the box” idea that it made more inviting. I was hooked from the very first page. The Binding created a historical background that was full of magic and mystery. Although it is considered to be a fantasy novel, some readers who are lovers of the genre may be disappointed with this one. There are very little magic and fantastical elements if you compare it to other fantasy novels. However, that should not deter readers. The mere mention of this magic pulls readers into the story and have them striving to learn more about this unique feature. Not describing it in heavy detail adds to the allurement and the enticement of the story.
I liked how this binding power was not only seen as a threat but also seen as a resource, especially for the rich. Memories and the mind are such fragile things and the book portrays how something so frail and innocent can be manipulated for their own sinister means. The tragedy and the pain that was inflicted on some of the characters reminded me a lot of the #MeToo movement. I wonder if the author did that on purpose. Even though the story took place in the past, a lot of the plot and its characteristics are relatable to the present. The powerful take advantage of the week…many people can relate to that fact.
Emmett’s and Lucian’s forbidden love story is one for the ages. Two star-crossed lovers that modern readers can root for. The character development of them was spot on. They evolved from two lost souls, searching for a purpose in their world to two confident men, being comfortable in their own skin. I love reading the evolution of their relationship. It was a great idea for Collins to tell their story from both perspectives. I would have had a hard time believing in the intensity of their relationship if it was told otherwise.
The Binding is an engaging page-turner that takes historical fantasy to a whole new level. With thrilling storytelling, creative world building and consistent character development, you will be enthralled in this story, as much as I have.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I received an advanced copy from Edelweiss and HarperCollins for an honest review.