The Binding by Bridget Collins


The Binding was one of my most anticipated reads for 2019, which I have been excited about reading since I first saw the beautiful cover design, and heard of its intriguing premise. At its heart are the lovingly created books we all adore, but it transpires that these books are filled with magic, and hold within them past secrets.

The story begins with a teenager called Emmett, a boy from humble beginnings who works on a farm with his family. For some time he has been suffering from an unknown illness, which is something of a mystery which has unsettled Emmett and his family. This made for an intriguing start to his journey, with the mystery being something that is uncovered when Emmett leaves home to become an apprentice book binder. Here he finds himself in a whole new world, and I enjoyed learning more about his new trade, the work he puts in to create these beautiful books under the eye of the elderly woman to whom he has been apprenticed. But there is more to the books than meets the eye, where the contents of the books are not fictional, but linked directly to real lives and stories, memories taken away and bound together. We discover that the binding is a path followed by those who have experienced trauma, a way to clear their minds of the harsh memories, whilst keeping their secrets safe. That is until these books risk falling into the wrong hands…

The novel is split into three parts, which alternate between different perspectives as we follow Emmett through his apprenticeship, through to his discoveries and him piecing together his past. I was really excited about the theme of this story and I quickly became immersed in the world that Collins has created, which depicts a magical and mysterious world within the pages of books. There were some interesting characters to meet along the way, and I was intrigued to see how these characters would develop as the story unfolds. This included Emmett, and the intrigue surrounding his illness and the past that he has left behind, along with the relationships that he builds along the way. The story deals with some interesting themes surrounding grief and pain and asks questions over whether you would erase such emotions if given the chance. This was pretty thought provoking given the ability to erase guilt from your memories, even if it is the most terrible of crimes. But aside from this it is also the story of a teenager and the relationship that takes hold of him, and how this impacts his own family, with whom he already shares a fraught relationship due to the prejudice surrounding the book binding profession. It was a story that captured my attention, and left me curious to discover what other secrets may be waiting to be uncovered.

The Binding was an enjoyable, magical read centred around a fascinating theme. It is a tale of love and pain, and of secrets and revelations, with a few surprises along the way to keep you hooked!

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