The Binding – Bridget Collins

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*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*


Blurb:   Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Forever.the binding 91c+f8p3zal

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.

THE BINDING is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event.


This book was as beautiful and captivating as its cover.  And as dark.

It is difficult to shed too much light on the plot without spoiling the intricate spell the author weaves; lacing information with emotion from start to finish.  I felt like I was following a golden thread of Emmett’s story as it twisted and turned, from present to past and back, drawing me breathlessly on in the hope that he and I could escape eventually unscathed.

I loved it.

The general feel of the novel is magical realism, in a world where books have a much greater significance and darker role than in our own, and the binder’s job is a reviled and yet sacred calling.  However, despite this theme this is less a fantasy book and more a story about love and pain, memory and suffering.  The author uses historical precedents of how healers and others who were ‘other’ were treated, used and abused by society to hold a mirror up to humanity’s inhumane behaviour.

The Binding uncovers deep truths about our darker feelings:  we fear what we don’t understand; we despise what we revile in ourselves; we hate the people we most need, for they see our vulnerabilities exposed.  This fear, hatred, revulsion leads people to commit atrocities in the name of ‘what is right’.  Of course, some people are just straightforward bad, and they are here too – sadistically gleeful at the infliction of misery.  So trigger warnings here for violence, sexual abuse, incest and suicide.  Only when there is dark can we see the light.

This is an exquisitely well-written book about what we do to each other in our greed and selfishness, and also about the redeeming power of love and kindness.  Highly recommended for fans of Sarah Waters’ historical fiction or… anyone really.  You should all read it!


   ‘Emmett,’ said Pa, without turning round.  ‘There’s a letter on the table.  You’d better read it.’
I slid it towards me.  The writing blurred into a shapeless stain on the paper.  ‘My eyes are too dusty.  Tell me what it says.’
Pa bowed his head, the muscles bunching in his neck as if he was dragging something heavy.  ‘The binder wants an apprentice.’
Ma made a sound like a bitten-off word.
I said, ‘An apprentice?’
There was silence.  A slice of moon shone through the gap in the curtains, covering everything in its path with silver.  It made Pa’s hair look greasy and grey.  ‘You,’ he said.

– Bridget Collins, The Binding


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pro_reader.pngFind more from Bridget Collins at her blog here (under the name B. R. Collins) and the website here, or follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

The Binding is available on Amazon right now!



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3 thoughts on “The Binding – Bridget Collins

    1. Thank you, and I am glad that you are enjoying it too! I look forward to hearing your thoughts when you have finished 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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