Sometimes you really can’t help but judge a book by it’s cover and this book is absolutely stunning. Both inside and out. When I first saw The Binding in Waterstones, I knew I just had to have it for my book shelf. I’m so glad that not only is the book beautiful, but so is the story within.
The Binding follows the story of Emmett, a farmer’s son as he embarks, rather dispassionately, on his apprenticeship to become a Book Binder. But books in this world aren’t your standard stories, books are memories bound and trapped inside pages and leather. Forgotten to the owner and stored for safe keeping in the Binder’s vaults. Emmett soon discovers his name on a book, but what has forgotten and bound?
One Story, Three Parts
The Binding is split into three parts,: Emmett as he becomes an apprentice; Emmett’s past; and finally Lucian, a mysterious binding customer. The story and the mystery of what was once forgotten unfolds as you get further into the narrative.
Emmett stands in a morally grey area and unsure of how he feels as a newly trained binder, is he saving people from their memories? Or, is he causing more pain and stealing souls?
The grey area becomes murkier as you meet Emmett’s new city living master, who sells and trades older books and memories.
Expectation Vs. Reality
I wasn’t sure what to make of this book when I first started reading it. I loved the idea behind binding memories and forgetting the past. It’s just this book was not what I was expecting and had a sweet and surprising romance.
This book delivered something else than it promised from the blurb and I was actually okay with that. When I first picked this up, I was looking forward to delving into a fantasy world, learning about binding memories and secret vaults of books. But what I actually came out with was a touching romance and heartache, with very little fantasy elements.
The concept of binding memories, locking away thoughts and feelings, even selling your memories for pocket change is fascinating. I just wish I had more in depth exploration of the practice of binding, and deeper into how this practice has changed the world and daily life. I feel like this book only just touched on building the world. The Book could’ve gone into more detail about the effects of selling and trading peoples life’s and memories. I also wish the book went further into the character Seredith, and her backstory. Explored through her experiences in the crusades which sounded both exciting and tragic.
Rather than building a story about the magical world, Collins has written a book about the characters and their almost mundane lives. Whilst there are unpleasant characters, there’s no massive overarching evil destroying the world; just two people fighting for each other through everyday discrimination. And that twist on the generic epic fantasy story really places the Binding in the real world, making the story feel more tangible and whole.
Binding Memories and Hearts
Although guessing the story’s progression early on, the Bindings love story is both touching and heartbreaking to read.
The Binding is a slow burner book, the plot labours along for a while and it isn’t until towards the end of Part One that is starts to get more interesting and involved. Part Two for me, was where the story truly began and I really began enjoying the book as a whole from there. There’s so much mystery and hidden information from Emmett during Part One that it almost gets frustrating in chapters. But once Part Two kicks in I had trouble putting this book down.
I really hope Bridget Collins revisits this unique world in the future and continues to build the bindings backstory and concept. She’s only really touched the surface in The Binding, and I feel like there’s more we still need to discover and explore.
This is book has had a real impact on me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, it wasn’t necessarily the ending but the beautiful and touching romance at the core of the book.
I honestly really enjoyed this book, whilst not an epic fantasy, The Binding is an epic love story that will sit with you for days. I highly recommend giving it a chance, plus it looks gorgeous on your book shelf.
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