The Binding by Bridget Collins is an outstanding read. It defies labelling with a genre – historical, fantasy, romance, literary – and will be hard to push off my top read for 2019 (despite it only being early January!).
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 published by The Borough Press. Digital format publishes 7th January, hardcover and audiobook 10th January 2019.
It’s an intriguing thought isn’t it … sounds good to have memories erased so you can forget those awful things you’ve done or things done to you and yet, when you look deeper than that first reaction, you start to consider ethics and morals and power (which play out beautifully in this story). And don’t we need to remember those experiences for the joy and pain and learning we need to take with us into the future so we don’t make the same mistakes again? Feeling joy or pain means we are alive – alive to hope and for possibilities and moving forward. The whole concept fascinated me and kept me spellbound throughout The Binding.
There are three parts to the story and each has an ethereal quality to it. I loved the mystical dreamscape and breathed it in with great gulps.
Part One sees Emmett Farmer leave his parents farm to start his apprenticeship with Seredith in her cottage on the edge of the marshes at Castleford. I had so many questions! Circumstances force a move into Castleford and it’s after Emmett has conducted his first binding when he finds out he’s been bound. Part Two is the past. Part Three is a narration by the other main character of the story. I can’t be more specific as I don’t want to share any spoilers with you!
What can I tell you?
The Binding is set during the Victorian era which is perfect with its gas lamps, cobbled streets, hierarchy, wealth and poverty. I loved Bridget Collins writing style.
At the beginning of Emmett’s apprenticeship:
“Here the clock in the hall dredged up seconds like stones and dropped them again into the pool of the day, letting each ripple widen before the next one fell.”
I was emotionally invested in the two main characters, hated two other characters, had a great deal of respect for Seredith and how she felt about the skill of binding …
When I wasn’t reading The Binding I was thinking about it. I dreamt about it. I didn’t know what to do with myself once I had finished reading it. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time. Enough said 🙂
Connect with Bridget Collins
Read all posts in the historical fantasy genre on Jera’s Jamboree.