This may have been one of my first reads of the year, but I already think it is going to be one of my favourites for 2019! There are a lot of exciting releases I am looking forward to later in the year, but they have a tough act to follow with this.
I fell in love with The Binding as soon as I read the blurb:
Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.
It is a book about books; magical books, beautiful books that hold people’s secrets and unwanted memories. I couldn’t wait to read it! But before I even begin to review this book, I think we all need to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of it. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but we can at least appreciate a beautiful book when we see one! The dust jacket, the cover underneath, the simple illustrations inside, it is all just so lovely to look at. When this book was delivered to me, I spend what felt like forever just holding it and looking at it – Regardless of what I thought of the story inside, I knew this book was going to find a prime spot in my bookshelves for display!
Now that we’re done looking at the pretty book, on to the review. I feel like I can only give a brief review in comparison to what I would like to write, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will try my best!
Needless to say I had high expectations of this book after falling in love with the initial premise from the blurb, and I am happy to report that it delivered. I was drawn in from the very first chapter and lost a fair amount of sleep due to my inability to put the book down. It is unlike any book I’ve read before, such an original and gripping story, it made me wish it would never end!
The story is split into three parts, where we follow Emmett Farmer on his journey leading up to him becoming an apprentice book binder and slowly the other main character, Lucian, is weaved into the story as well. The world within the story is one where books are treated as almost dirty objects; whispered about but not really acknowledged, traded on the black market whilst others look down their noses at the whole business.
Emmett has a decision to make, to see if he can come to terms with his future as a book binder – Some treat the act of binding as witchcraft, stealing away peoples souls and sealing them into books, others see it as a harmless way of dealing with less-than-pleasant memories, some even selling certain memories to earn a bit of money and help create an entertaining read.
Then the fateful day finally arrives, where Emmett finds a book with his own name emblazoned on the cover. He has to decide what to do – Keep it, read it, or destroy it? What could he have possibly wanted to forget, what could have been so bad he had to have it sealed away within a book?
I loved the idea of books being memories that had been sealed away. In reality, books are pretty magical as it is, so this premise wasn’t really too much of a stretch of the imagination. It was interesting to see how Emmett struggled internally with the concept of being a book binder, with the act of binding being viewed as taboo by a large portion of the population.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there was a romantic twist to the story that I hadn’t been expecting at first.
Overall, I devoured this book in a pretty short space of time – It was in my hands any opportunity I had, any attempt at coherent conversation with me whilst I had it was a lost cause. I cannot wait to get my hands on any future publications from Bridget Collins, especially if they are even half as magical to read as this book was!