The Binding by Bridget Collins
“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.”– Bridget Collins
Book: The Binding
Author: Bridget Collins
Published: 10th January’19
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Alternate history, Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins
My rating: 3/5
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 amongst 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.
An unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books—and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic.
“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.’ Finally I met her eyes.”– Bridget Collins
Among all the common premises that books revolve around, binding was a breath of fresh air. The premise was so thought provoking. I was hooked from the moment I got to read the blurb. It promised an amazing story that would steal our hearts. I am not sure if it lived up to my expectations though.
The art of binding is something out of the box. Who would have thought that this is a point of view that could be explored and it was in its own sense, mesmerizing.
The book is divided into three parts that starts off with a basic story where Emmett Farmer is on the journey to discovering his true calling. The story is not that gripping as the blurb makes it feel like. But it isn’t boring either. An effort is needed to keep reading though. The first part felt a bit stretched out. But it does leave us on a note where we want the lead character to win in whatever his quest is.
The second part stole my heart. It was so good. I went through so many emotions while reading it that I needed to finish up the book and find out what would happen. The plot thickens and now the lead has more than one quest to accomplish. I started feeling that the ending wouldn’t even be close to what I was beginning to imagine.
The part three was disappointing. It started off well but I had so much anxiety as the pages were nearing the end and nothing was being sorted. Halfway through it and I knew that I would not be happy with how the story ends. It showed so much promise but it ended up feeling like just another YA romance fiction.
The characters were well structured. I loved the ones the author wanted us to love and loathed the ones that the author wanted us to loathe. Emmett and Seredith were amazing. Lucian was admirable too. The writing was easy to follow and smooth.
Just for the sake of the ending, I rate the book 3/5.
Talking about the story and characters below and this will have spoilers, so do not read if you have not read the book or not wish to have spoilers.
The love story is beautiful and devastating at the same time. I am all in for pride lovers. My only problem with the book is that it turned out to be just another love story.
Part One was slow but it revealed so much. I loved the bond that Seredith and Emmett shared. I hated De Havilland from the time he entered the plot. I knew he was cunning and I hated his guts. The fact that he was Seredith’s son made him even worse for all that he did to her and her teachings. But part one had so many reveals that it builds up the readers interests. There is a lot of domestic abuse and sexual assault in that world and the fact that the sacred art of binding was being used to cover up the crimes made my blood burn. I hated Seredith’s death. She deserved better.
Part Two was so good. It is why I gave the book 2/3 of the stars that I managed to give it. I wanted everything to fall into place in the end. I felt pity for Emmett’s family that wanted his sister to marry Lucian just so that she wouldn’t have to live the poor life that they are living. I loathed them for announcing that they are ready to act like Emmett isn’t gay. My heart sank with Emmett’s at their disapproval and ignorance. In the end, I wanted them to find each other. This part put so many things into perspective. I loved it.
Part Three was such a bummer. I knew it wasn’t going to end well. Being from Lucian’s point of view, it did extenuate Lucian Darney’s character and we got to know him better. But, I felt like we deserved more insights into his past to understand why he was so scared of his father. But, they found each other in the end and even though it was an open-ended conclusion, I was a tad-bit happy. Also, de Havillands’s murder and the atrocities that Lucian’s father committed while his wife acted like she didn’t notice were a cruel but good addition to the story. They kind of reflected on how easy it is for the upper class to continue as they wish. I feel poorly for Lucian’s bride who was left at the altar. She only asked him to be kind to him and he could have told her the truth or at least something that would matter but he didn’t. She did not deserve it.
I am utterly disappointed that nothing was done to protect the art of binding. Nothing was done to avenge Seredith’s death and to fulfill her wish of protecting Binding in its true form. It felt like it’s gone forever and I hated it. I also felt like Binding was not even the heart of the story.
“somehow it went from too soon to too late, without the right moment in between.”– Bridget Collins
Coming to the characters:
Emmett Farmer is one of the few reasons I could not get myself to hate the book. He was such a care free spirit and a beautiful person. I can see myself being friends with him. His love for Seredith and her ways, for Lucian showed how pure he is from his heart. I wanted him to be a hero that saves the day but he could not be that in a true sense. He gets his true love back with a fight against circumstances so, maybe he ended up a hero after all. His character is very well constructed.
Seredith, the one true artisan alive in her field is an old lady who works for no one but the honour of her gift – Binding. I felt her motherly instincts towards Emmett. She was so intense with what she did. She wanted Emmett to learn everything and she wanted him to not stray from the true path. I really wish that her death would have had some meaning. We do not even know if it was murder.
Lucian Darney, our sweet boy using a cover to protect his true self from the world. He is so many things and has made so many wrong choices but he is the character that was the closest to reality. I would have liked him better if he had a little bit of a back story though.
The Art of Binding:
Props to the author for creating such an elaborate world for the story. She did it so well. For starters, Binding is an art where the Binders help to take away painful memories and write them down in the form of a book. The person does not remember anything, not even that he has been bound. The basic rule of binding is that the person should be willing to be bound. However, in the story, like in the real world, it was being misused to cover up crimes like rape, incest, murder and what not.
“Which was worse? To feel nothing, or to grieve for something you no longer remembered? Surely when you forgot, you’d forget to be sad, or what was the point? And yet that numbness would take part of your self away, it would be like having pins-and-needles in your soul “– Bridget Collins
Reasons to read the book:
- A fresh and unique premise
- Easy story telling
- LGBTQ literature
- Well built characters
- Does not live up to the expectations.
- Can be triggering for a few people with all the violence and assault
- The grip on the story wanes away as we come to the end
“May your darkness be quiet and the light come sooner than you need!”– Bridget Collins