Wednesday 10 March 2021

Book Review - The Binding


Title: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins 

Publisher: The Borough Press

Release Date: 26 Dec. 2019 

ISBN-13: 978-0008272142



Books are dangerous things in Collins's alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It's a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything. 


My Review

I was looking for a book that I could get hooked into whilst going into hospital for some treatment where I would have long hours to fill. I saw this book and thought the cover was absolutely beautiful so I wanted to know more. I then read the blurb and thought it sounded really interesting - the idea that books could bind and hold secrets sounded different but fascinating so I knew I had to try this. In the end it didn't go to hospital with me as I was in the middle of a different series, but I picked it up a few days ago once I was home and still looking to fill some time.

The book starts off as a bit of a mystery - we meet Emmett who works on his family farm but has recently suffered from some sort of illness and is struggling to complete the necessary daily chores, then he gets the offer of going to be a 'Binder's Apprentice'. Confused as to why he has been chosen - especially as his parents have always done everything to keep him away from books - Emmett agrees to go. He arrives at an old marshy house in the middle of nowhere and is welcomed by an old woman who turns out to be his new boss. Thrown into this strange world Emmett must learn his craft, and understand the true powers of books.

I actually really enjoyed the first part of this book, I thought the world was set up well, the characters were realistic, I liked Emmett and his vulnerability, especially when mixed with his determination. And I thought Seredith was the perfect mentor, often mistaken for a witch and perfectly suited to it, I thought this book had amazing potential. I was ready to learn more about the secrets and ideas behind 'Binding' and wondered where the story would go. 

Then Seredith dies and Emmett is taken by the owner of a Binding firm where they bind and sell memories for profit and even sell peoples books- sharing memories to the public. There Emmett meets Lucian Darney, someone he met before in the Marshes and felt a strange connection to. Something is going on, but neither have any idea what. We then get thrown into a memory of a summer where Emmett and Lucian met, but things didn't turn out as planned, and resulted in their own Bindings. From this point in the book, which was only about a third of the way in, so the majority of the book, can be summarized as nothing more than a sordid love affair. I won't go into details of who exactly was involved or what went wrong, but it ust felt like a complete waste of time. Gone was the magic world of the bindings and any hope of finding out more about how it worked, but instead it was a forbidden love and mistakes being made, with secrets and lies and sex.

I pretty much skim read the remaining 250 odd pages just to see what the big secret was and if it would get better again, but to be honest I kind of wish I hadn't bothered. There was nothing there that I wanted to know, it was not what I expected at all, and completely turned away from the thing that drew me in which was the magical world of the Bindings.

Very disappointing and not what I wanted at all.

 My Rating