by Bridget Collins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
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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
I was drawn to The Binding by Bridget Collins for it’s gorgeous cover and promising premise. Collins introduces us to the binding of memories and the damage forgetting painful memories or worse precious ones can do.
Imagine if you did something reprehensible or suffered a loss so great it wrecked you. What if you could go to a Binder and share with them your story. Freeing you of the memory, pain, and distress. It would be as if it never happened. Would you do it?
Books in this historical fantasy aren’t at all like ours. They are beautiful, leatherbound books created by Book Binders. These gifted creators, experience your story as if it is their own. They take all those memories of an event, person or place and bind them in YOUR book. The Binder then protect those books keeping your memories safe. You walk away with no memory of the story or in fact binding.
But, as with any gift some will abuse these powers. Imagine that power and wealth could have a crime erased, keep a witness from remembering. Why one could get away with the most heinous of crimes.
While not all binders are scrupulous some seek to profit. Greed can get you a book filled with the darkest tale. And worse, what if your memories were taken from you? While the person giving the memory must give consent we all know how social ladders work. A maid refusing consent could lose their position etc.
In The Binding, Collins shares a love story between a farmer and the son of a wealthy lord. I was surprised and delighted by the LGBT romance. At first it appears Lucian is interested in Emmett’s beautiful younger sister Alta. There was tension between Emmett and Lucian until the three became fast friends. It was a slow-building, innocent romance that soon became more.
The author pulled me in, with Emmett’s mysterious illness and discovery of his gifts. The story unfolds in both past and present. We follow Emmett and his sister, Alta, as they meet and befriend Lucian Darnay, then to the time Emmet is sent to the binder and eventually to the city to work for a binder.
The world building and writing pulled me in and held me spellbound. I enjoyed how the author showed all aspects of binding with its touch of magical realism. The characters came to life before me as the author revealed twists and turns that brought missing pieces of the story to life.
The Binding was beautifully written. A complex mix of magical realism with a twist on the classic historical romance featuring the privileged lord and the poor maiden.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I have seen this one around, I like the sound of it and know my daughter would love it. I will have to pick this up. Great review.
I was so intrigued by this book because I have been seeing it all over bookstagram but haven’t heard many reviews of it! But it sounds like the inside of the book is just as magical, in the slow and steady moving way. I think this might be one I am going to try.
I loved that this story surprised me with the content! I didn’t think it was going that angle. But loved it all the same! Glad you enjoyed it, as well!
Ooh this sounds like a great story. I love that premise, and the cover! So beautiful. I’m happy to see there is an LGBT+ romance too!
Tyler H. Jolley
Oh wow, that cover is fantastic. It is truly a piece of art. Happy reading, Kimba!
Lindy@ A Bookish Escape
I can see how this story left you spellbound. The premise sounds very interesting. Having your memories erased or bound by someone else would make for such an entertaining story, and I like that the author was able to pull you in with her world-building and writing!
Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra
I love how unique this sounds. Plus, I’m a complete sucker for books about books, lol.
Glad you liked it Kim, sounds good
Oh my goodness. I have never heard of this book, but it sounds amazing! And you’re right – that cover is gorgeous. I’ve added to my TBR, and I’m going to check my library for it.
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I love the synopsis for this story and you’re about that cover art being so gorgeous. I hadn’t spotted The Binding before reading your review so thank you for alerting me to it 🙂
Ooh, this sounds like a good one. What a neat premise for the plot and its world. Adding it!
What a refreshing premise for a story. I’d love to read this one at some point.
OMG!!! I am so thrilled another gave this such a positive review! I absolutely adored this book. It was so different and beautifully written. The concept was something never done (and isnt that rare)!!! And the villainous ways binding was used was rattling!
Yay…. I am so glad you loved it too Susan!
I agree that the cover is beautiful and I didn’t know about it so your reviews makes me even more curious
What a totally unique premise for a story. This sounds so fun. I could see the binders taking advantage of people so easily.
Or the rich buying memories.
Angela @ Simply Angela
Ooh that cover is beautiful! I’ve not heard of this book before. It sounds interesting.
This sounds intriguing and for some reason I haven’t heard of it before now. Glad you had a good time with it!
That is definitely one eye-catching cover! I love it. The books in this book also sound stunning! I also haven’t read a lot of magical realism, but the few books I have read have been fantastic.
i did see this in my local bookstore! Sounds really spellbinding, didn’t really know what’s it about but now i do
i keep seeing this book in my local bookstore, sounds really spellbinding
This sounds like a beautiful tale and I love the idea of Bookbinding. What a great review and you have me very interested in this one. I agree, the cover is drawing me in.
Genesis @ Whispering Chapters
Oh wow, I don’t think I would want my memories erased, even if they are the worst kind of painful or traumatizing. I think people grow through those hardships. This is so intriguing though! Those Book Binders have my total attention. And an LGBTQ romance! I’m adding this to my TBR. Awesome review!
I liked the book.. I didn’t love it like I thought I would. An interesting premise but I felt it could have been built upon.
The premise sounds super intriguing!
Lotte | http://www.lottelauv.blogspot.co.uk