The Binding
Imagine you could erase grief.Imagine you could remove pain.Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.Forever.Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

The Binding Details

TitleThe Binding
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 10th, 2019
PublisherThe Borough Press
ISBN-139780008272111
Rating
GenreFantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Adult, Writing, Books About Books, Lgbt, Romance, Mystery, Young Adult

The Binding Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Bridget Collins has written a beautifully imagined piece of fantasy historical fiction, a sumptuous love story, of poor farmer's son, Emmet Farmer, and the wealthy, privileged Lucian Darnay, doomed to be star crossed lovers. In this world, books are not what we would recognise them to be, books are for all those things that people feel destroyed by and cannot live with in their lives. They are extraordinary hand crafted, leather bound repositories of actual peoples memories, their secrets, grief Bridget Collins has written a beautifully imagined piece of fantasy historical fiction, a sumptuous love story, of poor farmer's son, Emmet Farmer, and the wealthy, privileged Lucian Darnay, doomed to be star crossed lovers. In this world, books are not what we would recognise them to be, books are for all those things that people feel destroyed by and cannot live with in their lives. They are extraordinary hand crafted, leather bound repositories of actual peoples memories, their secrets, grief, and pain, erased for good after being stored in a book. Books are feared and forbidden, as Emmet finds to his cost when he is drawn to buy one. An unwelcome letter arrives for Emmet, an apprenticeship he cannot refuse, he will train to be a bookbinder under Seredith's tutelage, a sacred calling. For a while, Emmet has been ill, unable to contribute to the farm as he once did, but he, like others is afraid of bookbinders, a profession surrounded with ignorance, prejudice and superstition. He travels to Seredith's remote home, and surprisingly finds solace in his daily tasks, surrounded by a silence that turns out to be what he needs to bear his illness.The narrative goes back and forth in time, from the time Emmet and his sister, Alta, meet Lucian Darnay, to the development of their relationship, and to Emmet's experiences with other bookbinders and their clients. The reader comes to understand how Emmet came to develop his mystery illness, and the effects and repercussions of bookbinding on his and Lucian's lives. Seredith turns out to be a remarkably ethical and moral bookbinder, storing and safely locking away the books in her vault. This is in sharp contrast to others, some bookbinders are happy to practice a corrupt, horrifyingly venal form of bookbinding for the rich and powerful that uses and abuses people. These bookbinders illegally sell and trade the books for profit, often to those with a prurient interest in the secret lives of others, and for the purposes of blackmail. In a story of murder, magic, separation and ruthless powerful forces, do Emmet and Lucian's love stand any chance in a hostile world?Collins engages in complex world building in this utterly beguiling novel, making this world come vibrantly alive with her detailed descriptions of time and place, whilst relating a moving and original love story that charms and captivates. This is Romeo and Romeo for the modern age, the characterisation is compelling, with Emmet and Lucian’s love crossing the social class divide, moreover a love story that crosses boundaries in so many other senses too. This is brilliant storytelling, that immerses the reader in a past where books are a dangerous and secret commodity, and a forbidden love that threatens to destroy Emmet and Lucian. Highly recommended. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.
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  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    We’ve been called witches since the beginning of time. Word-cunning, they used to call it—of a piece with invoking demons…We were burned for it too. The Crusade wasn’t new, we’ve always been scapegoats. Well, knowledge is always a kind of magic, I suppose. Emmett Farmer is a young man with issues. He used to think that he would inherit his family’s farm. It was the life he was used to and the road he expected to follow to, and beyond, the horizon. But he has not been himself lately. His abiliti We’ve been called witches since the beginning of time. Word-cunning, they used to call it—of a piece with invoking demons…We were burned for it too. The Crusade wasn’t new, we’ve always been scapegoats. Well, knowledge is always a kind of magic, I suppose. Emmett Farmer is a young man with issues. He used to think that he would inherit his family’s farm. It was the life he was used to and the road he expected to follow to, and beyond, the horizon. But he has not been himself lately. His abilities have deteriorated. He loses himself, in time, suffering dizziness, nausea, and weakness. Some say he was cursed by a witch. When he is offered an apprenticeship with a bookbinder, it offers a way out, however frightening the career and his mentor might be. Bridget Collins - image from United Agents, UKDespite some raw similarities, bookbinding in Bridget Collins’s world is not quite the same as it is in ours. Emmett trains with the elderly Seradith, a woman seen as being a witchy sort by some of the locals. In fact, bookbinding is seen as a dodgy sort of work. What is bound in books here are memories. Instead of sharing recollections or stories, as they do in our reality, the memories bound into beautifully crafted leather books in this world are removed from clients by binders. Unlike books in our world, which are designed to be shared, these books are meant to be hidden. Being on the NY Times Top Ten list would kinda defeat the purpose.At least that is the intent. Cheat on your taxes? Pay off your mistress to keep quiet at the height of a political campaign? Sell out your nation’s security in return for real estate consideration by a foreign enemy? Awkward. But there is a solution, well, for part of it, anyway. Go to a binder and the memories will be nicely removed, leaving your tiny mind virginally memory and guilt free, and ready for that sit-down with whoever might be heading an investigation. If memory-cleansing bookbinding existed in our world, I imagine there would be a long line of potential clients. Of course, it might be a challenge to find binders with the innate talent to make those memories move from a client’s brain to the page. One can train in how to work the leather, sew the pages, and do all the material steps entailed in constructing such a book, but only those with a special gift can smooth the passage from one medium to the other. Emmett Farmer, it turns out, has such a gift. It does not help much with tilling fields, but is crucial for this special craft. …the hours passed slowly, full of small, solid details; at home, in the busyness of farm life, I’d never had the time to sit and stare, or pay attention to the way a tool looked, or how well it was made, before I used it. 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. Emmett acclimates to Seradith’s remote locale (out in the marshes), begins to learn the manual end of the binding craft, and is eager to move beyond to learn what bookbinding is really all about (he does not actually know). He is particularly curious about what goes on beyond certain forbidden doors at Seradith’s emporium, but even glancing inside such doors causes him major episodes of what his boss calls Binder’s Disease, costing him days of consciousness and bringing forth strange visions. These strains increase when certain clients arrive. When he finds a book with his name on it, Emmett realizes that he is less than whole.Part Two of the novel is Emmett’s bound story as reported in that book. Part Three returns us to Emmett’s now, and how he deals with what he has learned. More than that about the goings on risks spoiling a key plot twist. But it does touch on forbidden love and the dangers of loving outside one’s class, however that may be defined. The Binding is an engaging page turner of an historical fantasy, particularly the first third, in which we are introduced to Collins’s world, an amalgam of the medieval and circa 1890 rural England. The mystery of Emmett’s affliction is enticing and his experience at Seradith’s is riveting. I found Part Two, Emmett’s bound story, interesting, but nowhere near as gripping. Part three is pretty much a continuation of Part Two, but with Emmett aware of his history, so is more of a cloth with the second than the first part. Not to say that the latter two are not good, just not so fabulous as the opening, in terms of the engagement of the story, at least. In terms of looking at the socio-economic implications of binding, they are wonderful. One fascinating thing is how Collins came up with her concept. She was working as a volunteer at Samaritans, a non-profit that offers people who will listen for people who need to talk. What would it be like if I could reach out and winch that memory from you? She was also taking a book-binding class at the time, and a happy combination was conceived. In setting her story in late 19th century rural England she uses some history of the era to correspond with events in the created reality. For example, the Binding Law of 1850 in Emmett’s world corresponds to the 1850 legalization of gin (I’ll drink to that!) in English law. The Crusades here, for example, were not about perceived Middle Eastern outrages, addressed with European outrages, but were focused on scapegoating binding for the social and economic disruptions brought about by the rise of capitalism. Binders are viewed as women accused of witchcraft have been in our world, dealers in mysterious practices, necessary for providing needed services, but not to be trusted, and maybe evil. There are many novels that use memory loss as a core mechanism. Some elements of these are fairly common. How is memory lost? Literature is rich with examples, usually of the traumatic sort, usually involving violence, typically a blow to the head. These tend to populate books in which memory loss features as a Maguffin for propelling a thriller or mystery. Next down the list is memory lost through illness, typically Alzheimers’ disease. Still Alice fits in there nicely. There are stories in which memory loss is via external misadventure of a broader, science-fictiony sort, things like plagues. The Book of M is a wonderful example. Less populous is the sort in which memory is willingly surrendered, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pops to mind. (and we elect to keep it there, for now) The Binding relies on the last of these, substituting a bit of magic for the sci-fi explanation offered in Eternal Sunshine. What lifts The Binding above the crowd of memory-loss novels is its consideration of the societal implications of voluntary forgetting. There are complications, of course, and they are wonderfully explored. Some with power want others to forget what they have done. Think of it as an employment contract, or a user agreement for partaking in pretty much any software. You agree to this and that, and such and such, which will entail the surrender of some inalienable rights. Just click agree at the bottom of the mouse-print form. But damn, you need the job, or want to use the software. However, what if what you are surrendering to the seller, or employer, is the right to your own memories? And what if the person in power has done something they would rather you not remember? You might find yourself (or what is left of you) wearing out a path to the binder’s shop for a bit of a memory trim (Boss just sent me over. Says you should just take a bit off the top, please, and close on the sides, ok?) I will leave to your imagination (and the book of course) how such a system might be abused. So, we have an author who looks at political power in a very personal way. Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your…wait, what was that again? Continuing the image, what if you are starving and selling your memories as a way to put food on the table, the way many in poverty engage in sex work to make ends meet? Puts me in mind of the Beggarwoman from Sweeney Todd (Hey, don’t I know you, Mister?”) Which of course presumes that there are binders out there with somewhat lower ethical standards than the very righteous Seradith. Shocking, I know. To lift the novel even higher is a parallel consideration, the significance, the power of books themselves, what it means to write a book, to read a book, and to share the experiences of another through the written page. I was reminded of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Book Thief. What if we look at books as a manifestation of self? Not exactly a stretch. Do authors lose a part of themselves when they commit their thoughts to the page? Is reading a book written by someone else a form of voyeurism? Just as in our world, books can be used for benign or malign purposes, books are treated as treasured valuables by some and as a form of personal or mass-produced filth by others. Seradith, essentially, amputates memories, as a physician would take an unhealable limb, a benign act, and saves the bound memory in a beautifully crafted book, kept safe in a vault. Others may make use of such books for corrupt purposes. You, yes you, reading this, you know the power of books, how they can act like a drug, slaking, temporarily, an unquenchable thirst. Very drug-like, no? How about the power of books to heal? Ever read anything that made you feel better? Certainly any well-written memoir can offer one a view of someone’s inner life, but at least in our world, that does not require that the author forget what she has written. Books change lives, whether we read or write them. For writers, a part of themselves definitely finds its way onto the page. And a world in which all books are locked away sounds rather medieval. Collins offers a bit of wry perspective on writing. There’s a growing trade in fakes, you know. Does that concern you?” He paused, but he didn’t seem surprised not to get an answer. “I’ve never seen one—well, as far as I know-but I’m curious. Could one really tell the difference? Novels, they call them. They must be much cheaper to produce. You can copy them, you see. Use the same story over and over, and as long as you’re careful how you sell them, you can get away with it. it makes one wonder who would write them. People who enjoy imagining misery, I suppose. People who have no scruples about dishonesty. People who can spend days writing a long sad lie without going insane…My father, of course, is a connoisseur. He claims that he would know instantly if he saw a novel. He says that a real, authentic book breathes an unmistakable scent of…well. He calls it truth, or life. I think maybe he means despair. I doubt that despair is what you will experience on reading The Binder. This is a marvelous read, a thoughtful, engaging novel, featuring a large dollop of Dickensian social commentary, while following an appealing everyman through the perils of coming of age, and offering in addition insightful observations on memory-as-self and the power of books. I was sure I had something more to say, but I seem to have forgotten what that was.Review Posted – January 4, 2019Publication-----UK – January 10, 2019-----USA – April 16, 2019=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and GR pagesIf you check only one interview with the author, make it this one, in which the author talks with her US editor. The Library Lovefest audio is about 40 minutes long on Soundcloud, and is well worth the time invested. - Editors Unedited: Editor Jessica Williams in Conversation with Author Bridget CollinsLists-----GR list of Amnesia and Memory Loss Fiction-----Popular Memory Loss Books on GR-----Books featuring amnesiaThe Memory Files - film-----Memento-----Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-----The Bourne Identity (film)-----The English Patient (film)-----my link textThe Memory Files - fiction----- The Bourne Identity (novel)-----The English Patient (novel)-----Still Alice-----The Book of M-----The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-----The Book ThiefBookbinding-----from Instructables.com - How to Bind Your Own Hardback Book-----Self-Publishing Basics: 5 Book Binding Styles Illustrated
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  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    January 1, 1970
    This is a difficult one to review. I think I expected this book to be more fantasy than it currently is. It started very slow for my liking, and I think if it wasn't all the PR campaign and the interest that's built on Social media, if this was a book I've myself picked, I'd probably give up around 20%. But I continued reading because I was really intrigued, also the reviews are really good for this book. Sadly I will not join the fan base, this time. I confess, I stopped proper reading at 40% t This is a difficult one to review. I think I expected this book to be more fantasy than it currently is. It started very slow for my liking, and I think if it wasn't all the PR campaign and the interest that's built on Social media, if this was a book I've myself picked, I'd probably give up around 20%. But I continued reading because I was really intrigued, also the reviews are really good for this book. Sadly I will not join the fan base, this time. I confess, I stopped proper reading at 40% then skim read this. The idea of "Binding" is really creative but I didn't like the way it unfolded. At one point the text was being sarcastic, I think it said something like novels being other people's sorrows, overlooking the concept of fiction. But then, what is this book? The writing is good but..(view spoiler)[In the end, it's a story of an awfully bad man and his abuse, and a gay romance alongside - not sure which one is the main and which one is the side story. (hide spoiler)]Settling in 2 stars, sorry I think it deserves probably more stars. I'll be tempted to say 2.5 but no option. Given better books 3 stars so sadly a 2.(I've changed my mind a few times now, sorry!)Thanks for Borough Press for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Umut Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars.
  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    I'm starting to become a little disillusioned with upcoming releases by unknown or new-to-me authors. THE BINDING has an excellent marketing campaign, a gorgeous cover, and was a book I wanted to get into my hands, desperately, due to a (inaccurate) comparison to a book I love. However, for this reader, the insides don't match the outsides.This book has three parts to it. The first act is slow, plodding, and mired in the familiar 'other characters know things but cannot tell the protagonist for I'm starting to become a little disillusioned with upcoming releases by unknown or new-to-me authors. THE BINDING has an excellent marketing campaign, a gorgeous cover, and was a book I wanted to get into my hands, desperately, due to a (inaccurate) comparison to a book I love. However, for this reader, the insides don't match the outsides.This book has three parts to it. The first act is slow, plodding, and mired in the familiar 'other characters know things but cannot tell the protagonist for reasons' trope. Act two is a major reveal, a flashback, and the only part of the story I enjoyed. Act three is a new perspective, misery, and extra unpleasantness.. when there was already a lot of that to go around.The concept of binding memories, locking away emotions, is fascinating. There was something of a cultural clash of the rural, old-world, respect for such an exchange, versus the more urbane and materialistic -- and not to mention vile and/or wicked -- reasons for doing so. But ultimately all it did was introduce more terrible characters into a book that wasn't filled with many good ones to begin with. Infact.. I struggle to think of more than one.There is darkness to this story, unpleasantness, and any of the magic I was hoping for was really just limited to the strange practice of the binding and the few binders who could do it. This was a lot less fantastical than I thought it would be and the only surprise was that there is a queer romance within these pages. If I rated this book by the parts of it, it would be a slow terribly paced two star for part one, a sweet blush of a three for the middle, and an awful one star for the final section. There is a HEA of sorts but.. yeah, I don't know. This was just a lot more depressing or maybe just.. stark? bleak?.. than I thought it would be. Great premise. Some potential. And when I was reading it, it was a smooth read; though once put down it was hard to build up the desire to pick it back up. Overall, though, I wish I could bind my memories of THE BINDING and go back to when I still had stars in my eyes at the thought of reading something new and wonderful. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    ugh - tell me this technology is available and sign me up, please.also, sign me up for the book, double please.
  • Katie.dorny
    January 1, 1970
    SPOILERS AHEAD I loved this! And the gays get a happy ending!!!! 2019 is treating us good!!Emmett is a sick young man, but he is handed off by his parents to a binder - a woman who can take traumatic memories and bind them in books to make you forget. She has specifically requested Emmett as her apprentice.Emmett is a conflicted, flawed but wonderful young man with good morals. Lucian is a trapped middle class brat who wants what he can’t have due to his social standing.I don’t want to say any m SPOILERS AHEAD I loved this! And the gays get a happy ending!!!! 2019 is treating us good!!Emmett is a sick young man, but he is handed off by his parents to a binder - a woman who can take traumatic memories and bind them in books to make you forget. She has specifically requested Emmett as her apprentice.Emmett is a conflicted, flawed but wonderful young man with good morals. Lucian is a trapped middle class brat who wants what he can’t have due to his social standing.I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoiling it.I loved this book. The plot, they way the plot developed, the well rounded and fleshed out characters, amazing start to the year!
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    ***NO SPOILERS***In this surprisingly emotional fantasy–literary fiction blend, books are sordid things, definitely not read, and locked away in vaults at reputable companies with names such as Lyon & Sons. Each book in this world contains the wiped memories, most often horrible, of one person. Destroy that book by fire, and restore the horrible memory. Or, in rarer instances, destroy that book and restore destroyed lives. On the simplest level, The Binding is about same-age characters Emmet ***NO SPOILERS***In this surprisingly emotional fantasy–literary fiction blend, books are sordid things, definitely not read, and locked away in vaults at reputable companies with names such as Lyon & Sons. Each book in this world contains the wiped memories, most often horrible, of one person. Destroy that book by fire, and restore the horrible memory. Or, in rarer instances, destroy that book and restore destroyed lives. On the simplest level, The Binding is about same-age characters Emmett Farmer and Lucian Darnay, one an unassuming farmer’s son turned “binder’s apprentice”; the other the self-assured nephew of a wealthy aristocrat. Despite coming from these different worlds, they cross paths as teenagers. The way books and “binding” (the act of wiping memories and binding them into a book) complicate their story is the basis for this imaginative, and beautiful, tale. The book has three parts, with part I moving slowest. Just why that’s so becomes clear in part II; there’s too much mystery in part I. Many pieces of the puzzle lock into place in part II, and here, The Binding is tense, exciting, and eventually heart-rending. Part III keeps the momentum going with high suspense. Though the magical concept of memory wiping/binding is essential to The Binding’s plot, this isn’t the strongest example of a fantasy or magic-type book. The story isn’t set in a fantasy world that operates within certain magical parameters; it’s set solidly in reality, just a reality where memories can be wiped. Unfortunately, the story contains just one description of binding, and that isn’t immersive. The Binding is, however, a bewitching literary fiction and as that, it’s undeniably immersive. The simply fascinating main characters pull at heartstrings, and unremitting suspense keeps pages turning. The plot takes unexpected turns and is peopled with vivid characters set in 19th century England.The Binding has many strengths. Its biggest may be the fully developed story arc of main characters Elliott and Lucian, from their late teens into adulthood. It may be tempting for an author to rush through to the most exciting events or make a plot point happen conveniently, but Collins crafted this arc with patience. Then it almost seems she went the extra mile and threw all kinds of wrenches into her story, letting it lead her. It’s an intelligent and memorable first effort in adult fiction that hopefully will lead to more adult works in the very near future. This is the best kind of story: one that hurts terribly to say goodbye to. Read-alike: FingersmithNOTE: I received this as an Advance Reader Copy from LibraryThing in November 2018.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    The Binding, Bridget Collins's first adult novel, is a book full of wonderful magic and searing heartache. A special hybrid of fantasy and historical fiction, it is a sumptuous and emotional affair which is substantial in its sincerity and exquisite in its writing. The premise, that memories you wished to be forgotten can be bound and effectively erased from a person's life, is a unique one and one I was on board with from the beginning. But this original concept is not the end of the story as i The Binding, Bridget Collins's first adult novel, is a book full of wonderful magic and searing heartache. A special hybrid of fantasy and historical fiction, it is a sumptuous and emotional affair which is substantial in its sincerity and exquisite in its writing. The premise, that memories you wished to be forgotten can be bound and effectively erased from a person's life, is a unique one and one I was on board with from the beginning. But this original concept is not the end of the story as it brings together two characters, Emmett and Lucian, in a beautiful, heartfelt love story. Two lovers that cross the class divide, with one being rich and one poor, but also many other divides of the time period. Collins's world is lush, richly imagined and one I really didn't want to leave. This is a breathtakingly spectacular read and rates as one of the first fantastic reading experiences of 2019. The plot is a slow burn for the first half of the novel, which I enjoyed, and from then on it gathered pace a little. The perfect pacing is matched by the equally perfect storytelling ability of the author; it's rare you come across a more exceptional portrayal of time and place. An utterly charming and nuanced story with all the makings of a bestseller that captivated me from first page to last. Stunning!Many thanks to The Borough Press for an ARC.
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  • Christie«SHBBblogger»
    January 1, 1970
    Title: The BindingSeries: StandaloneAuthor: Bridget CollinsRelease date: January 7, 2019Genre: historical fiction, fantasyI had such high hopes for this book and I'm so disappointed that I didn't love it. When I read the synopsis it sounded like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which is a favorite film of mine. It's about a couple who have broken up and erase each other from their memories to forget the heartbreak they suffer from. The twist on that concept is that the memories being erase Title: The BindingSeries: StandaloneAuthor: Bridget CollinsRelease date: January 7, 2019Genre: historical fiction, fantasyI had such high hopes for this book and I'm so disappointed that I didn't love it. When I read the synopsis it sounded like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which is a favorite film of mine. It's about a couple who have broken up and erase each other from their memories to forget the heartbreak they suffer from. The twist on that concept is that the memories being erased are being bound inside books. Books! I loved the concept and I couldn't wait to explore it more. This was quite a bit darker than I expected. A lot more. In fact there could be triggers for readers in this book, (view spoiler)[rape, sexual abuse, suicide (hide spoiler)] and I don't think the synopsis properly conveys what to expect in this one on several levels.The Binding is set in a world sometime in the late 1700s, early 1800s, 60 years after "The Crusades." There are a lot of references to it, but obviously not the real life holy/political war that ended in the 1200s. This war which persecuted book binders as witches establishes the society as a puritanical one, painted as intolerant and prejudiced against the unknown. Emmett Farmer has always had a curiosity for books, but his parents were scandalized when they saw him reading one as a child. He was sharply struck and forbidden to ever have one in his possession again. However, one day they receive a summons from a local binder who wants him as her apprentice and they ship him off to her remote home out of fear. Emmett has no wish to leave his family, but his mental "illness" has been a burden on his family and he believes it may be for the best. I couldn’t remember getting sick; if I tried, all I saw was a mess of nightmare-scorched fragments. Even my memories of my life before that—last spring, last winter—were tinged with the same gangrenous shadow, as if nothing was healthy anymore.Once at the Binder's, Emmett soon learns that books are not just simple stories recorded for the reader's enjoyment as he previously believed. He never understood the stigma attached to them, but suddenly it's all becoming more clear. The people who arrive in the middle of the night, wracked with mental anguish leave in a calm stupor. Numb ghosts of themselves, they're ushered out as if starting a new chapter in their lives. The previous pages stricken out of existence, like a big red pen crossing through mistakes better left out of the final version. The books Seredith creates are secreted away and protected at all costs, but not all Binders have her integrity. The irony here is that she is virtually the only binder who was shown to the reader who wasn't corrupted by greed and malice. Yet she was the one who was scorned the most by everyone for her old-fashioned, so-called useless practices in binding. Those whom the world should fear the most were the devil sitting next to you at a dinner party. Collins constructed the Binding process that's mired in darkness, so much so that I wasn't able to detect any benefit from it all. Seredith claimed it was serving people, "doctoring their souls" so they could find peace. But I saw no evidence that there was anything good about this magic bestowed on them. You don't doctor a soul by trying to erase pain from existence. Through our worst mistakes and trials in life we are taught vital lessons that help us grow. As we see in the book, the people who are bound are tormented by nightmares that creep in. Sleep and wake bring them foggy feelings of disquiet that could be triggered at any time. There's no healing in an artificial erasing of pain. It's bottled up inside, silently trapping you in your subconscious. The problem for me was that though the hero struggled with his conscience over being "called" to binding, in the end he would continue to seek out work in the practice. Even after seeing the dark underbelly of the beast and how it wreaked havoc on his own life. As the storyline wears on, you discover characters who use binders to hide their sins so they may continue to do harm. And the binders who serve them regularly can't be bothered to care about the consequences of their actions on the victims. They weave through the upper class in the finest silks, garments paid for with the suffering of those not worth a second thought. Classism is a strong theme in the book. The poorer "peasants" are forced to sell their memories out of desperation, and their struggles to survive are far removed from the elite whose money buys silence and respect. One aspect to The Binding I thought was kind of funny was the author's tongue in cheek shot at fiction books. There were "fakes" (otherwise known as novels) that were mocked as useless and silly. Because after all, who would want to read made up stories about heartbreaking things? You can copy them, you see. Use the same story over and over, and as long as you’re careful how you sell them, you can get away with it. It makes one wonder who would write them. People who enjoy imagining misery, I suppose. People who have no scruples about dishonesty. People who can spend days writing a long sad lie without going insane.”I quite enjoyed the fantasy aspects of the book and the exploration of the morality and dynamics of it all. The writing style of Collins was especially flowery and descriptive. I typically enjoy this style, so it didn't slow down my reading pace at all. But I did find that after a few chapters in I saw patterns in the descriptions that because extremely repetitive. For example, until I read this book I had no idea that there were SO MANY ways to describe light. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every time a scene changed, someone looked out a window, woke up, went to sleep, walked into a room...anything. They observed a patch of light and how it appeared. How it illuminated someone, how it moved, faded, sparkled, consumed shadows. ✒︎A wedge of lamplight was shining through a gap in the kitchen curtains...✒︎Behind her the light from a lamp crossed the upper window as someone went to bed. ✒︎...red gold blaze of the last sunlight was reflected in the windows.✒︎The light lay on the floorboards in a silvery lattice.✒︎...there was a hint of light, a crack between the clouds and the horizonAfter a while when you read so many repetitious variations, it just makes you want to skim past it. Sadly, my biggest grievances with the story was the romance and the ending. The romance was love triangle with the hero's sister as the third party. It was a forbidden romance where feelings were kept quiet in the hopes that they would go away. A major problem for me was that his sister was innocent of veiled intentions and misconceptions, and inevitably she was a victim when truths were revealed. The two main characters snuck around in secret and their actions were a major betrayal of trust. In the second half of the book the love interest became a snobby, cowardly, and unlikable person. I understood that circumstances and home life caused this, but their bitterness and anger made them hard to root for. At one point, they knowingly caused a man's murder by his own careless words and couldn't bring themselves to try to help him. The story sank deeper and deeper into desperation and gloom and I sped on waiting for a resolution to it all. The ending I give one star. It was pitifully abrupt and so unsatisfying. I wanted the villain of the book to get his comeuppance and instead we saw absolutely nothing happen. It was as if the ending was hacked off right in the middle of a scene leaving you with a feeling of deprivation. I found some things about the story to be compelling, but the execution overall wasn't for me. However, I'm sure many will love the intriguing concept, so I urge you to read it and judge for yourself. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Very difficult book to review this, without giving away the secrets that make it pure magic on the page, but let’s see how we go.Imagine if you could bind away your memories in a book – once written and bound you forget. You can leave the bad behind. Is that good? Or would it empty you of that which makes you who you are..Emmett has been unwell, a fever of the mind, when he is called to learn the trade of the bookbinder. So begins an unusual love story, a speculative fantasy tale, a beautifully Very difficult book to review this, without giving away the secrets that make it pure magic on the page, but let’s see how we go.Imagine if you could bind away your memories in a book – once written and bound you forget. You can leave the bad behind. Is that good? Or would it empty you of that which makes you who you are..Emmett has been unwell, a fever of the mind, when he is called to learn the trade of the bookbinder. So begins an unusual love story, a speculative fantasy tale, a beautifully complex social commentary in  a world that lives and breathes.The Binding is a slow burner of a literary delight, gorgeous immersive prose and an utterly compelling story. A novel of many layers, with a huge heart and a melancholy emotional core, it was utterly riveting from the very first page. Gently impacting on you as you read in a way you won’t realise until you are done, The Binding is an intelligent and well woven story that speaks to who we are at a very human level. Recommended. 
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    I was very lucky to receive a beautiful proof copy of this book from the folk at Borough Press and I am so pleased I did. This is a phenomenal book that is going to be a front facer in the fantasy section for a long time coming. The story of a young man who is summoned to be an apprentice binder is beautifully written and full of emotion. A wonderful imagining of a world where your memories can be taken from you, if you wish, and bound into a book that is so cleverly written it doesn't seem like I was very lucky to receive a beautiful proof copy of this book from the folk at Borough Press and I am so pleased I did. This is a phenomenal book that is going to be a front facer in the fantasy section for a long time coming. The story of a young man who is summoned to be an apprentice binder is beautifully written and full of emotion. A wonderful imagining of a world where your memories can be taken from you, if you wish, and bound into a book that is so cleverly written it doesn't seem like fantasy at all.All of the characters in this book have a depth and purpose and I just wanted everyone to be happy. I wanted to know what happened to them long after the book had finished, which says to me that they are extremely well written to be that believable. Overall, a wonderful adult fantasy that has all the right elements to be a page turner.
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  • Kindling Micky
    January 1, 1970
    THE BINDING felt to be a unique read, within a historical/magically-orientated world. THE BINDING is about my favourite subject, books. It is about the making of them and what is behind the whole need to make a book; it wasn't at all what it seemed to be. More than anything, THE BINDING was about the binder, a young man, an apprentice, Emmett Farmer. This is a book that started slow, and for me, it had pacing issues right through the first half. There were periods of confusion in the first few h THE BINDING felt to be a unique read, within a historical/magically-orientated world. THE BINDING is about my favourite subject, books. It is about the making of them and what is behind the whole need to make a book; it wasn't at all what it seemed to be. More than anything, THE BINDING was about the binder, a young man, an apprentice, Emmett Farmer. This is a book that started slow, and for me, it had pacing issues right through the first half. There were periods of confusion in the first few hours of reading this book. It definitely picked up pace from the mid-way mark and I found myself more drawn in then. There is a slight past and present narrative that subtly enhanced the reader's understanding of the story line.At the heart of this story is a tale of forbidden love. A coming of age story that was beautiful and tragic. It was this element that I enjoyed the most when reading and that kept me needing to read in the latter half.I didn't connect with any of the main characters in any particular way. There are strong side characters, Emmett's family, the people Emmett is apprenticed to and of course, Lucian. The class divide was a key element to story and I appreciated the further barriers this brought to the tale.Overall, this was an unusual fantastical tale of historical life. It was a solid and sometimes fascinating read with pacing and trudging feelings for periods of time. I would definitely try Bridget Collins' work again.I voluntarily read an early copy of this book.
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  • Tahlia
    January 1, 1970
    Blog Post: https://museofnyxmares.wordpress.com/...Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/museofnyxma...*I was provided with an ARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. All quotes used may be subject to change upon publication.The Binding was one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2019, and so I was more than eager to get my hands on it, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have quite high expectations going into it, because I’d hyped it up so much. And I’m Blog Post: https://museofnyxmares.wordpress.com/...Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/museofnyxma...*I was provided with an ARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. All quotes used may be subject to change upon publication.The Binding was one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2019, and so I was more than eager to get my hands on it, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have quite high expectations going into it, because I’d hyped it up so much. And I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint at all. From start to finish this was just, a clever book! The whole premise of the book is so imaginative and immediately intrigued me, it’s such a mind blowing concept, that is as terrific as it is scary. The book is split into three parts, which I think really did the story justice and made it more frighteningly realistic, it also brilliantly aided the turning points in the book. When I came to a new part, I would be filled with such nervousness and anticipation, because the book was so cleverly divided into these sections, that something monumental had always just occurred before the next part began. It has to be the most impactful use of dividing a book into parts that I’ve come across! Each part offered something very different from the others, with there even being a shift in point of view for one of them – which was most intriguing, but each part followed the other so beautifully, this is a prime example of how the structure of a book can impact its overall success.The writing in this was phenomenal and I cannot even count how many bits I highlighted. Bridget Collins just has a beautiful and haunting way of describing emotions, characters, just everything. My favourite writing is writing that makes you immediately feel something, and I didn’t just read this book, I felt my whole way through it, I was afraid, upset, excited, regretful, angry, hopeful. You didn’t have a choice or say in whether you felt something, with everything being described so incredibly well, “He was afraid. The realisation took me by surprise. For an instant I saw past my own resentment. He was as frightened and miserable as anyone I’d ever met. He was desperate. He stank of it, like fever. But I couldn’t pity him, because there was something else, too, in the way he looked at me. Hatred. He seemed to hate me.” The characters were also incredible, to the point where I either fully loved a character or hated them beyond comprehension. Even though I had such a variation in my feelings towards these characters, I can still appreciate how greatly crafted they were in order to make me feel so strongly. Emmett Farmer is a precious, but feisty little thing, ‘I’m the witch’s apprentice. Who the hell are you?’, and I adore him deeply and offer no mercy for anyone who hurts him.Another standout thing about The Binding for me, is everything to do with binding. The author invented so many different creative aspects to binding, that were fascinating and really made me buy into this world she has created. There were different moral codes that different types of binders followed, one binder created the books by hand and saw this as sacred, whereas another had a team to do it for them. There were also some who traded bindings of people both dead and alive, the latter being illegal, for profit,‘It’s the binding that matters. The craft of it, the dignity. Say a woman comes to me for a book. I make a book for her. For her, you understand? Not to be gawped at by strangers…There are binders who only think to turn a profit, who care about nothing but their bank balance, who, yes, sell books.’ Some people even sold their own memories, both good and bad, in order to make money. The binders themselves faced great prejudice from others, being accused of witchcraft and dark magic, ‘We’ve been called witches since the beginning of time. Word-cunning, they used to call it – of a piece with invoking demons … We were burned for it, too.’ I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed all these bits of information, because I was seriously blown away. I find it so rewarding when there are different layers to a concept in a fantasy book, it’s so thrilling to learn something new as you go along.This book is quite a hard one to review without giving away any spoilers, but I’ll try my best to not be too vague, or give away too much. Like I mentioned, the book is split into parts; Part 1: Emmett’s present life after the binding where he is still in the dark,“I knew that I’d collapsed after midsummer, because Ma had told me so, and that I’d been on the way home from Castleford; but no one had explained where I’d been, or what had happened.”, Part 2: Emmett’s book/memories, and Part 3: The events after he finds his book (the present). Part 1 mainly detailed Emmett’s life on the farm with his family and the initial summoning of him by the binder Seredith, ‘We’re not sending you away. She’s asking for you.’, his arrival at the bindery, his life there learning about what it means to be a binder,‘Memories ,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember . Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm. That’s all books are.’, and ultimately finding a place where he feels he belongs, with work that he can actually do, “I hadn’t belonged anywhere for so long, and now this room, with its smell of leather and glue, welcomed me.”In Part 2 we are flung into the past as we essentially devour all the memories that Emmett had lost in his binding, this was the most interesting section for me as I just didn’t know what I was going to find within the pages of Emmett’s book. It’s natural to assume that the memories concealed in the book were very bad, however, what we find there is far more complex than being just good or bad. If I had to choose a favourite section, I’d probably have to choose part 2, because it contained some of the happier parts, “I didn’t know who I was any more. I was new, I was a stranger…I had never been so happy. I didn’t know it was possible”, and it was very informative in regards to Emmett’s life before his book, which I was desperate for. It was very bittersweet to find out what had led to his binding and the memories that he’d lost because of it. This whole section was so surprising and not what I expected at all, but it was fantastic and felt like some sort of reprieve from Emmett’s dreary present.I was so anxious to read part 3 and was even hesitant to start it, as I had so many hopes for what I wanted to happen and there was just a general sense of urgency and fragile hope that surrounded it, that I felt on edge the whole time. It also introduced one of the most horrific characters that I’ve had the displeasure of encountering, I honestly hated this man with every fiber of my being. He was just vile and seriously made my skin crawl. Through this character though, we got to see just how scary the idea of being able to take people’s memories away can be, it truly made me sick to my stomach, and yet I couldn’t help but marvel at how clever the author was to think of someone abusing the art of binding in this way, ‘it’s a double pleasure for him, to read the story from inside her head and then do it all again as if he’s never touched her before.’ This final part of the book took us on a wild ride indeed, but I’m more than pleased about how it ended, although my poor heart could of done with it happening a lot sooner. My immediate thought after I finished it though, was that I already missed these characters and would gladly read anything more about them (probably not going to happen, but still), because they are both my babies. I can’t wait to read this again at some point, as hindsight would allow me to appreciate the earlier parts that much more.This is without a doubt one of the most beautifully written, imaginative and well structured books I’ve read. Every aspect of this novel speaks to the authors obvious intelligence – from concept to characters. It is a very unique story that is likely to stick with people long after they’ve read that final sentence, even if it’s just missing them like me, or marveling at the sheer genius of it all. Despite being so deliciously detailed, this is also one of the easiest books I’ve read, I literally floated through it, because it was that well written. As much as this is a story about the power of books and memories, this is a story about forbidden love, family, secrets, second chances, power, morals and understanding oneself. This was harrowing at times, but was also filled with the purest hope and the sweetest romance, “After a long time he reached out and brushed my cheek with the back of his knuckles; and something in the gesture made my heart turn over as much as anything else he’d done that afternoon.”, and is definitely a book that I think everyone should experience.
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  • Deborah Ideiosepius
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an interesting example of light magic realism used in a otherwise realistic scenario. The book is set in a vaguely medieval setting (We have pistols and some machinery, coaches ect), though not much writing is dedicated to expanding on the world building of time and place.This novel is, essentially a YA love story with the slight twist that the romance is LGBT rather than standard. The twist to the romance, and the world, is that in this world a 'book' is usually made through a 'bin This book is an interesting example of light magic realism used in a otherwise realistic scenario. The book is set in a vaguely medieval setting (We have pistols and some machinery, coaches ect), though not much writing is dedicated to expanding on the world building of time and place.This novel is, essentially a YA love story with the slight twist that the romance is LGBT rather than standard. The twist to the romance, and the world, is that in this world a 'book' is usually made through a 'binding' in which a person with the right skills writes the clients memories down, after which they are totally erased from the clients memory. Remember that movie - Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind? Kind of like that.While this was a good enough book with a gorgeous cover I was a little disappointed in it's content and in order to explain why, I really need to do something I rarely do and replicate the blurb. I always think people can read that for themselves, but the blurb is the reason for my disappointment in the content: Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.See? It is exciting isn't it? I read this and I burned to read it; it jumped right ahead of my reading queue and I immersed myself in it.... with growing disappointment...Because that fascinating description is not really what this book is. Oh yes, it is all true but it is misleading. It makes it sound like 'the binding' will be a major part of the plot and it never is. You only get about a dozen pages relating to the binding. Emmett is taken as an apprentice to the trade, yes, but he knows nothing about it, it taught next to nothing by his master except how to trim pages, clean the house etc but not much else. We, the readers, learn nothing about Binding either, we follow Emmett about waiting... waiting... waiting for something to happen. It is obvious to us, from the get go, if not to him, that he has been Bound himself and when he finally gets to learn it we start the next part of the book.This is back story, Emmett at home on the farm before he 'got sick' or was 'apprenticed' . There is no magic and nothing about Binding. This long section describes the scenario under which Emmett's love story begins. There is a lot of it, and it is pretty interesting and well written. The problem here is largely that the main character is not terribly believable. Emmett is one of the least convincing boys I have ever read. Some authors can write across the gender wall, some can't. Emmett is a 'can't'. From inside his head, we only know he is male because we are told so. He is also a bit dense; while he is represented as being 'naive' because he is a farmer, I found this annoying. Rural people are rarely dense, they usually have good social awareness (because there is little else to do, for recreation, than socialise) and are usually pretty practiced, pretty early at all things sexual (because there is so little recreation). Emmett is leadenly behind in everything that one would expect him to know.Next, we skip forward to after Emmetts 'master' dies. He is dragged to the city, bad things happen, and we speed on to the conclusion of our love story. Here we do finally learn a bit more about Binding, but only in a social context; how it is misused by bad people ect. That is good enough. But at the end of the day, this is not a magical realism story about a world with Binding, it is a romance set in a medieval world with one slight quirk.The cover description does it no favours. It is a good book, well set out, well written, well edited and with an unusual story to tell. By fooling the reader into believing it is something else, you risk readers like me walking away with disappointment, which is a great shame. I have only given it three stars, and they are richly deserved, without the subterfuge I think it would have earned more because the reduced stars come from disappointment.A word on the cover! The cover is rich, luscious and absolutely gorgeous, it is most appropriate for a story about a Binder who makes the covers of the Bindings beautiful to represent the stories within (shame that was only briefly dealt with in the text). The image on GR does not do the subtlety of the layering of colours and gilding justice. It was worth reading just for the cover, almost.With thanks to the local bookstore for the loan of an ARC copy.
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  • Angel McGregor
    January 1, 1970
    What a phenomenal book!! I received a proof of this book at a Bookseller event, and had the privilege of meeting Bridget Collins and hearing her speak about her story before I read it. Listening to her was fantastic, hearing where her ideas came from and how the story developed. The intriguing idea of books being true stories, bound from people who want to forget, or needing to in order to make money, was one that intrigued me on a level that I think only true bookish people can understand, but What a phenomenal book!! I received a proof of this book at a Bookseller event, and had the privilege of meeting Bridget Collins and hearing her speak about her story before I read it. Listening to her was fantastic, hearing where her ideas came from and how the story developed. The intriguing idea of books being true stories, bound from people who want to forget, or needing to in order to make money, was one that intrigued me on a level that I think only true bookish people can understand, but the story was much more than this. Emmett's story, one of honour, secrecy, guilt and love gripped me from the first few pages, and had me crying and laughing along with him. Lucian made a great supporting lead role and tugged on heart strings in just the same way. Their stories, so seemingly separate yet intertwined on so many levels had me eager to keep turning the page! This is a book is one that I believe will be a fast and easy seller, and I cannot wait to put into people's hands. As a Bookseller I get to see how people react to books and I can't wait to see the love and support that I know Bridget Collins will receive for The Binding!
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    The Binding is a new Novel by the Author Bridget Collins whose other works include; The Traitor game and Game runner. I received an E-arc of this book off Edelweiss+ for review. Emmett Farmer is one of those characters that takes a while to figure out. For the first part of the book I wasn't wholly sure where his story was going, but by the end of part two I was a little bit in love with him. His story is one of a forbidden love and familial obligation that leads to a thoroughly engrossing story The Binding is a new Novel by the Author Bridget Collins whose other works include; The Traitor game and Game runner. I received an E-arc of this book off Edelweiss+ for review. Emmett Farmer is one of those characters that takes a while to figure out. For the first part of the book I wasn't wholly sure where his story was going, but by the end of part two I was a little bit in love with him. His story is one of a forbidden love and familial obligation that leads to a thoroughly engrossing story. The book is split into 3 parts and as stated above for most of the 1st section I was unsure as to where the novel was leading, but once I'd started reading part 2 there was no going back. I was so deeply bonded with Emmett and needed him to get a happy ending that I read the rest of the book in a matter of hours. The third section is narrated by Lucian Darnay, a character you meet briefly in the first few chapters but his relationship with Emmett only becomes apparent in the second part of the novel.Set in a Victorian style era this novel shows what it must have been like to be gay in a time where it was not only frowned upon but illegal. It also shows the depths to which people will go to forget or make other people forget things they are not proud of or need covering up. The idea that books are actually peoples memories they wanted forgotten was such a fresh approach, but Bridget also didn't shy away from the darker side of it, people selling memories to make a living and people being made to give up memories other people don't want coming out.This is without a doubt one of the most beautifully written stories I have ever read. and will be a book that I continuously recommend until everyone I know has read it. The writing is sublime, the characters effortlessly likable and the plot heartbreaking and bittersweet. It is a great read for anyone looking for a true LGBT book. An easy 5/5 stars for me!
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  • Menna van Praag
    January 1, 1970
    Every so often, once in a decade if I’m lucky, a book comes along that grips me with such force that I lose my mind a little. In my pre-teens it was The Water Babies, in my teens Rebecca, in my 20s The Time Traveller’s Wife, in my 30s The Night Circus. In my 40s it might just be The Binding - unless something comes along in the next 9 years to trump it, which I can hope for (who doesn’t want that experience again?!) but suspect is unlikely. Now, I know that love for a book on this level is (almo Every so often, once in a decade if I’m lucky, a book comes along that grips me with such force that I lose my mind a little. In my pre-teens it was The Water Babies, in my teens Rebecca, in my 20s The Time Traveller’s Wife, in my 30s The Night Circus. In my 40s it might just be The Binding - unless something comes along in the next 9 years to trump it, which I can hope for (who doesn’t want that experience again?!) but suspect is unlikely. Now, I know that love for a book on this level is (almost) as much about that unique alchemy between reader and writer, as it is the quality of the book itself. But that book must also be of the very highest quality. And this one most certainly is.The story gripped me from the first & held me ‘till the end. The historical setting is ambiguous, you never know where or when you are, and I loved that. It was beautifully, subtly done. The slightly sci-fi angle (that people could have their memories taken away & bound into books) was superbly believable. I won't bother with plot summaries, since you can get all that from blurbs, instead I want to talk about the writing, which was so lyrical, so original, so vivid, so striking that I could barely put down my pencil from underlining! (Another reason I buy multiple copies of beloved books). I'll next be buying The Binding as an audiobook, so I can luxuriate in the glorious language in another medium. What elevated this book above many others was just how vivid the storytelling was. Indeed, at one point, I had to put it down & step away for an hour because the horror of a particular scene left me shaking. However, I still read this book's 400+ pages in 2 days - no small feat with two little kids! I didn't get much sleep last weekend 😉 The Binding horrified me, with the most chilling depictions of rape I've ever read, along with abuses of power, & bewitched me, the love story is exquisitely rendered, in equal measure. I will say - SPOILER ALERT - that I was relieved & delighted it had a happy ending. And what an ending! Oh! I'll be returning to The Binding again & again & again...
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  • Joanna Park
    January 1, 1970
    The Binding is a dark, intriguing novel that will stay with you weeks after you’ve finished reading. I’ve waited a few days to review it so I could properly get my head around what I wanted to say.The setting of the book is an historical one which seems very similar to our own world. There is mention of the crusades, the workhouse and the old rigid class system that used to be present in the UK. This made the book a little more atmospheric and chilling for me as the events that happen in the boo The Binding is a dark, intriguing novel that will stay with you weeks after you’ve finished reading. I’ve waited a few days to review it so I could properly get my head around what I wanted to say.The setting of the book is an historical one which seems very similar to our own world. There is mention of the crusades, the workhouse and the old rigid class system that used to be present in the UK. This made the book a little more atmospheric and chilling for me as the events that happen in the book seem more realistic.The book is split into three parts and goes back and forwards in time to allow the reader to fully understand the mystery surrounding the main character Emmett. All of the characters are fabulous creations and very varied which makes for very interesting reading. There is a real sense of good v bad in the book with most of the characters falling into one of the two categories. The events that happened in the book meant that I didn’t warm to many of them apart from Emmett who I felt drawn to straight away. He seemed like such a lost, gentle character that I just wanted to reach into the book to give him a huge hug! I wanted to keep reading to check that he was ok.The concept of the book is very clever and I did love the idea that you could erase a person’s pain. However this is sadly misused throughout the book by a few of the characters which led to some truly heartbreaking scenes that I found quite hard to read at times. I had to put the book down for a little bit and return when I felt strong enough to continue. I think this is a sign of some fantastic writing if an author can make you feel that strongly about something however some readers may struggle with it as this is definitely not a happy book. There is also a scene describing animal cruelty that I couldn’t read and had to skip over as it was quite easy to anticipated.This is the author’s debut novel and I’d be interested to see what she writes next as she’s obvious got an amazing imagination, though I do hope the next one is a little happier!Huge thanks to Borough Press for my copy of this book via Netgalley. If you like intriguing, emotional historical fiction then you’ll love this book.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this up because the cover looked beautiful, not really knowing anything about the contents, and I'm so glad I did This book is very richly written, and a fascinating twist on magic, books and memory. I'm usually *really* not a fan of the whole star crossed lovers trope but I was completely rooting for the characters in this. So many times I had to put the book down because I needed to go out and knew if I kept reading I would never get anywhere, while at the same time not wanting to go I picked this up because the cover looked beautiful, not really knowing anything about the contents, and I'm so glad I did This book is very richly written, and a fascinating twist on magic, books and memory. I'm usually *really* not a fan of the whole star crossed lovers trope but I was completely rooting for the characters in this. So many times I had to put the book down because I needed to go out and knew if I kept reading I would never get anywhere, while at the same time not wanting to go because I was dying to know what the next pages would say about my favorite characters Gorgeously woven and intricate this was a totally amazing read
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  • AnnaG
    January 1, 1970
    Great concept, but didn't live up to its potential in my opinion. I wasn't keen on the characters and I kept on thinking how much better a plot I could have come up with based on this concept.
  • Beadyjan
    January 1, 1970
    Isn’t it wonderful when you hear about a book you’re certain you’ll love.Isn’t it awesome when you are granted a copy to read and review before most folk get to read it? (Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss+)Isn’t it amazing when you love it even MORE than you thought humanly possible?Isn’t it brilliant to be able to shout about it and tell people how amazing it is? And isn’t it hard to find the right words to do it justice?To say I adored this book is a gross understatement, I devoured it an Isn’t it wonderful when you hear about a book you’re certain you’ll love.Isn’t it awesome when you are granted a copy to read and review before most folk get to read it? (Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss+)Isn’t it amazing when you love it even MORE than you thought humanly possible?Isn’t it brilliant to be able to shout about it and tell people how amazing it is? And isn’t it hard to find the right words to do it justice?To say I adored this book is a gross understatement, I devoured it and it satisfied every need.First, it is fantasy realism which is utterly believable. There is really only the one element of fantasy - the premise that real memories can be taken from your mind by binders who create them into a book which allows all your worst most hurtful memories to be hidden, even from yourself, forever.It is set in an unnamed historical era which feels like late 1800s. Peopled with many wonderful characters I fell in love with, several whom I loathed and one completely despicable, loathsome wretch I despised so much I shook when I read about him.It is a work of literary genius, so beautifully written it made my soul ache.Emmett is a farmers son, working the land on the family farm he has recently been best by ill health leaving him weak and barely able to think straight let alone do the heavy physical work labouring on the farm he loves alongside his sister Alta, the sibling he squabbles with but will do virtually anything for.When an offer of an apprenticeship reaches him he is aghast at the thought of learning to be a book binder, one of the rare few who can take other people thoughts and bind them into books. He doesn’t want to learn this job, he doesn’t want to leave his family and live out on the marsh in the bookbinder Seredith’s rambling old house. But he goes, because he is given little say in the matter and because deep down he knows it makes sense.The book is in 3 distinct parts, the first part introduces us to Emmett as we learn about his new trade alongside him, it’s quite slow paced and has a dreamlike quality as Emmett faces great change and makes a gradual recovery from the nameless malady which beset him for so long it eases us into the story, introduces Julian Darnay, leads us through Emmetts world and lulls us into a sense of false security thinking this is going be a steady, intriguing rather gentle book. OH NO IT ISN’T!!The second and third parts take us back in time, before he was a binder, before he really knew what books were, before he really knew who and what he was, and as you begin to bite your lip, and hold your breath you realise exactly what it means to be a binder and to be bound and the pace increases and sharpens and begins to writhe and twist and deceive.Love and passion and deception all play a part in this phenomenally breathtaking book which is an exquisite love story, an intriguing mystery with touches of depravity and cruelty which enraged and distressed me, whilst breathing the wonder of new love into my hardened soul.The 3rd part – well you’ll have to read it to find out, suffice to say I read the second part with my breath held tightly and my heart beating far too fast than is good for me. By the time I read part 3 it felt as though I had STOPPED breathing altogether.There was not one moment during this story that I managed to breathe properly and my heart hasn't yet stopped pounding (and OMG Splodge!)Perfection on paper!I think this is a book everyone will be talking about and will have fans from 15 to 150 quivering like mayfly as they gasp and shudder their way through The Binding.
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  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this - it's getting the extremely-pretty-jacket treatment, which experience has taught me is often an early warning of a great idea badly executed - but it turned out to be rather good. The thought-provoking premise is that books are not, as we think of them, made-up stories, but are rather the true memories of a person, magically bound between covers, which a person cannot retain  once they've been bound. It functions as a form of confessional and forgett I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this - it's getting the extremely-pretty-jacket treatment, which experience has taught me is often an early warning of a great idea badly executed - but it turned out to be rather good. The thought-provoking premise is that books are not, as we think of them, made-up stories, but are rather the true memories of a person, magically bound between covers, which a person cannot retain  once they've been bound. It functions as a form of confessional and forgetting, and binders are treated with wary respect. But it's also a power that can be abused, and Emmett Farmer, our young protagonist, is soon plunged into a world of wealth, cruelty, and complicity. Bridget Collins has thought out the implications of her initial idea with admirable thoroughness, and the book's written in a slightly breathy but perfectly palatable style that's just the right side of YA. (Emmett's romantic entanglement with another young man, Lucian, which forms the novel's emotional core, is mostly responsible for this, I think. It's nice to read anyway, and although I'm not a gay teenaged boy, from my perspective as a reader Collins seems to write sensitively. She's especially good on institutional power dynamics, in a relationship as well as in the society that Emmett and Lucian live in.) Released in January, this will be an excellent antidote to the post-Christmas blahs.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    3 stars for me, but a likely 4 stars for fans of Historical Fantasy. What I enjoyed most about this book is how much it surprised me. At first I thought I knew what was happening, but I didn't. And every time I got my feet under me in the narrative, it would shift to something new. The fantasy element (which I won't spoil) is both a familiar trope and a modern twist, the kind that will make you wonder what you would do if it was real. There's real stakes and serious issues here, but I found the 3 stars for me, but a likely 4 stars for fans of Historical Fantasy. What I enjoyed most about this book is how much it surprised me. At first I thought I knew what was happening, but I didn't. And every time I got my feet under me in the narrative, it would shift to something new. The fantasy element (which I won't spoil) is both a familiar trope and a modern twist, the kind that will make you wonder what you would do if it was real. There's real stakes and serious issues here, but I found the book to be a mostly breezy escape from real life (which was much appreciated). It was nice to get a love story you could really sink your teeth into, with real stakes and real rewards.
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  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    Such a great concept! I confess I struggled a bit with the first act thinking that it was a bit slow and a bit too much exposition, but actually once I'd read the second act I pretty much re-read the entire first act looking for all the bits I missed. I couldn't put it down by act three - I loved the viewpoint change and I really needed to know if it would end how I hoped it would. I really appreciated that it's a stand alone book - the author could have dragged this story across multiple books Such a great concept! I confess I struggled a bit with the first act thinking that it was a bit slow and a bit too much exposition, but actually once I'd read the second act I pretty much re-read the entire first act looking for all the bits I missed. I couldn't put it down by act three - I loved the viewpoint change and I really needed to know if it would end how I hoped it would. I really appreciated that it's a stand alone book - the author could have dragged this story across multiple books and ruined it; it works really nicely as a single volume. This is a true booklovers book!
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  • Karina
    January 1, 1970
    What a story! Set in what feels like Regency era England, but with a fantasy element that combines bookbinding and memory, love and loss, desire and control in a wholly unique way. A story with a forbidden love at it's heart that remains tantalisingly just out of reach, a smart and gripping structure and vividly drawn characters - I utterly loved this and have been urging it on friends ever since I finished it! It is also one of the most beautiful proof copies I've ever seen.
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  • Penelope
    January 1, 1970
    An epic, spellbinding and richly imagined novel of magic, memory, books and love. This wonderful novel is a poignant love story, a page turning thriller, a treasure trove of wonderment and just a simply splendid book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and very much hope that the author might brings us to this world again as I would be sad if this was our only visit.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    a book about a BOOKbinder? well sign me up.
  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ Page 44. I'm really not liking this at all. It's boring and I feel like the story will never start.
  • Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)
    January 1, 1970
    I really do not know how to start and finish with this review. The Binding is described as ‘a genre-defying fusion of history and magic, gripping and pacy, with a twist…’ It is the brainchild of Bridget Collins, a writer many of you may know from her writings in the YA world of fiction. The Binding is her first adult novel and just wow!!!!The Binding is probably one of the most original and unique books I have ever read.Imagine if we could hide away our most frightening memories, locked between I really do not know how to start and finish with this review. The Binding is described as ‘a genre-defying fusion of history and magic, gripping and pacy, with a twist…’ It is the brainchild of Bridget Collins, a writer many of you may know from her writings in the YA world of fiction. The Binding is her first adult novel and just wow!!!!The Binding is probably one of the most original and unique books I have ever read.Imagine if we could hide away our most frightening memories, locked between pages and in a special vault where they are safe from the prying eyes of the outside world? Imagine, once this happens, that we no longer are even aware of their existence and those fearful memories are erased completely from our minds. Imagine what would happen if the powers associated with the magic of these books were to fall into the wrong hands? Imagine. Imagine. Imagine…..This is the story of Emmett Farmer, a young boy living with his parents and sister, farming the land. Something is clearly not right with Emmett at the beginning of his story as he recovers from some tragic incident in his life. He is rebuilding his strength but he is struggling. A letter arrives one day with a demand for his services from a local Bookbinder, to train as an apprentice. Emmett is frightened. Emmett is wary. His parents always warned him to stay away from books. They were fearful of them, surrounded by like-minded folk who all carried the same superstitions.“DON’T EVER LET ME SEE YOU WITH A BOOK AGAIN.”‘But now they were sending me to the binder; as though whatever danger Pa had warned me against had been replaced by something much worse. As though now I was the danger.’One of the many fascinating things about this book is the research behind it. Bridget Collins studied bookbinding some time back and was ‘immediately seduced by it; by the processes that haven’t changed in centuries, the materials – the coloured papers, gold embroidery, silk, leather – and the tools, which are made of wood and bone and metal. It was all wonderfully tactile, with a sort of subtle glamour that made me imagine another, older, world. Being an incorrigible daydreamer I suppose it was inevitable that I’d pretend I was an apprentice, and start to imagine a life around me'At the same time Bridget Collins was a volunteer working with The Samaritans, hearing the stories and the tragic lives of the many people she came in contact with on a daily basis. ‘I began to wonder what would happen if I could simply reach out and take that story away from them, leaving them to begin again’Combining these two experiences with her fascination for the whole subject of memory loss, the story of The Binder began to take form and the character of Emmett Farmer was born.The bookbinder that Emmett is sent to is a wondrous person. Initially in fear, Emmett soon becomes in awe of what she is and what she does. Emmett is only allowed access to the binding at the cosmetic level, as his skills develop and his passion for the trade starts to unfurl. He learns to accept the truth of what she does and what his future may be. It’s a hard and difficult life for Emmett, as the bookbinder lives in a very remote location, with minimal contact with the nearest villagers but he learns to survive and to continue his apprenticeship in this very hostile environment.But as time passes, circumstances change and Emmett finds himself in a frightening situation…..he discovers his name on one of the books. But why? What has Emmett done in his past? What memory was removed?We are taken on an incredible journey of magic and intrigue as we enter a world like no other. A world where books exist, but not as we know them today. A world where the novel is born. A world where our worst nightmares can be swept away but also where evil deeds are hidden between pages and locked in vaults and safes.The Binding is a phenomenal tale of a forbidden love, involving dark forces and mysterious happenings. It is a compelling and spellbinding novel full of intrigue, suspicion and savagery. An extraordinarily unique tale, so full of originality and with a premise that quite frankly just blew me away. Hypnotic, mesmerizing….I loved it!
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