My Rating ~ Five Stars
RELEASE DATE: 10 January 2019
Publisher: The Borough Press
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..
When I first saw The Binding, I fell completely in love with the cover. Especially the amazing hardcover with the gorgeous intricate gold patterns under the dust jacket. Then I put it aside for a while and wasn’t quite getting around to reading it. The synopsis did have me intrigued though, so I was determined to read it this month. I AM SO GLAD I DID. This is now one of my absolute favourite books! A beautiful magical realism story, set in place where ‘Binders’ can take away your unwanted memories and bind them into a book. When Emmett Farmer is summoned away from his family to learn the trade of Binding (a trade his family have always told him they despise) he knows nothing about it, only that the old woman he is apprenticed to takes clients into a room and they leave looking a little dazed. When, by chance, he stumbles upon a book with his name on it, everything he thought he knew about his life is suddenly about to change.
The writing in The Binding had me spellbound from the very first page. I wanted to stay up all night and finish it in one sitting, I was so in love with the story, especially once I got to part two in the book. Watching all the different ways Binding was used – by people who wanted to forget, by people who were desperate enough to sell their memories to survive and by people abusing their power over their servants, was horrifying. It was one of those concepts that seemed only slightly questionable on the surface but showed all the ugly points of how it could be abused along the way.
I don’t want to give too much about the story away, but the book is divided into three parts – Part one is Emmett’s life before he discovers his books, part two is Emmett reliving his memories and part three takes place in the time after.
The writing was so vivid that there was one scene I had to skim over as quickly as possible to not leave terrible images in my mind, and I still didn’t quite succeed, even the few words I let my eyes rest on will now haunt me forever. (Trigger warning for animal cruelty if you’re wondering). But that vivid storytelling immersed me into the world of The Binding so well that I feel empty now that it’s finished.
I would highly recommend this one if you love magical realism, historical fiction and love stories with a twist.
Photo via my Instagram account @Bookbookowl