Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
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.
For some reason the binding was not what I expected at all, but in that totally glorious way when a book surprises you. It was atmospheric and beautifully evocative, and the writing just feels magical throughout. It’s fantasy but not – because we (sadly!) never learn really about the magic of binding or the rules.
It’s about relationships, and the way in which the bindings are used. Both of which I found fascinating and both are more the concentration of parts 2 and 3. Part 1 is therefore a little slow. Lots of necessary scene setting. It manages not to feel like an info dump, but only just. I enjoyed it, but I can see why people don’t as much. Though towards the end, where we start to explore how people use the bindings is brilliantly and terrifyingly done.
Part two was just spectacular for me. For a start, we get so much backstory for Emmett. And omg that relationship. I don’t want to spoil things but I honestly thought it wouldn’t happen and I was so pleased with how it all played out. Even if I didn’t like some of the effects of it on other characters, I think it felt real.
The POV change for part 3 threw me, but again I think it ended up working really well. Again, I feel too much detail would spoil the quiet magic of the book, so I’m just going to say that I really enjoyed it. It honestly was so different to what I thought but so beautiful.
Buy The Binding from Amazon UK.