Book Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding…

About the Book:

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.

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

My Thoughts:

Every so often you read a novel that is so blinding in its brilliance: uniquely plotted and beautifully written. For me, these sorts of reads are almost always historical fiction, and more often than not, they seem to contain a dash of magical realism with a gothic grace. The Binding is many things: a story of love, betrayal, society at its most depraved, of class and the abuse of power for both profit and entertainment.

‘He didn’t give me time to answer. Before I had time not to believe him he’d leapt the stream and was halfway across the next field, his feet slipping in the mud, his clothes already soaked and dripping. Maybe I should have followed him; but somehow it went from too soon to too late, without the right moment in between.’

Imagine a world in which books are feared. Written by specialist binders who hear your secrets and then bind them up into a book, a sacred object that takes the place of your memories, the things you can no longer live with. No one can speak to you of it; not the secret nor the binding. But imagine now a world where greed and depravity play their hands, using the power of book binding to cover abuses and crimes, over and over, leaving victims like empty vessels, bound again and again, their books no longer secret and protected, but traded for profit.

‘I can’t settle. It’s as if someone is just ahead of me, leaving every room just before I open the door. No matter where I go I have the same sensation, as if the warmth of someone else’s breath still hangs in the air.’

The Binding tells its story in three parts. It’s a novel that spins the reader around and takes them in several different directions. I recommend reading the physical book instead of an eBook if you can. It’s truly beautiful and enhances the reading experience. You are reading a book about beautiful books after all. I know this review is rather vague, but I don’t want to even drop a hint of a spoiler and it’s one novel where the less you know going in, the better. Trust me on this, if you love historical fiction, magical realism, gothic undertones, and tragic love stories, then The Binding needs to be your next read.

‘But he grips my shoulders and holds me steady. I let him take my whole weight. I can hear his heartbeat. When I raise my head he stares at me, eyes intent and hesitant. It sends a sting of exposure through me.’


The Binding was recommended to me by Carpe Librum.

About the Author:

Bridget Collins trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after reading English at King’s College, Cambridge. She is the author of seven acclaimed books for young adults and has had two plays produced, one at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Binding is her first adult novel.

The Binding
Published by HarperCollins – GB
Released on 31st December 2018

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

  1. Lucky I have a print copy of this one on hand! Do you think I will enjoy it? It’s been sitting on my TBR since it was released. As it’s a non review book I haven’t been able to squeeze it in. A truly lovely review too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the mention Theresa, I’m so pleased (and I’ll admit, a little relieved too) that you fell in love with The Binding. It was so imaginative and unexpected, and I’m still in love with the beginning of the novel. I just wish I could go back and experience it for the first time again.

    You should definitely give it a go Amanda and Claire 🙂 Hopefully you’ll love it as much as we did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought that too! When I finished and was contemplating my review, I kept thinking in a mournful way that I could never again experience the beauty of it anew.
      I’ve come to rely on your recommendations. They haven’t steered me wrong yet!


  3. Hi, Came across this review when looking for suggestions on what to read. We did this book in our book club and we all loved it for its originality. It was the centre of a very interesting discussion which l won’t say anymore about so as not to give away any plot spoiler. But highly recommend and will now be following you closely to see what else you recommend. thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Lovely to have you following. I read a lot of historical fiction. 😊
      Yes! This would be quite a good book club title actually. I bet you all had quite an indepth discussion about it. It would have been fabulous!


  4. Pingback: Reviews? Opinions, good and bad – J Mary Masters (Judith) – Australian author

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