‘The Binding’ Book Review

Updated: May 24, 2020

Book: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy

Pages: 438

Published: 10th January 2019 (UK)


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.

(Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)


Hello! Grabbed a cuppa, all settled in? Time for another book review: This time, the focus is on Bridget Collins’ novel ‘The Binding’. Although I do have mixed opinions on this one...

The book is split into three sections, beginning with young apprentice Emmett Farmer, who is whisked away to learn the skill of binding. Then it delves into Emmett’s past and finishes from the perspective of Lucian Darney.

When I first choose this book, I thought that it had so much potential. I mean, have you seen the cover? It’s beautiful! 😍 Also, once you’ve read the book, I think it may be a little pun on how beautiful the cover is - as they talk repeatedly on what makes a lovely cover/ binding. Even from the blurb, it sounded magical. Although it could be so much more... I want to know more about Emmett’s apprenticeship, the actual skills and practices involved in the bookbinding trade. I want to know more about the Crusade which is mentioned numerous times, yet never in detail. I want to know more about Emmett’s family and there’s so many loose ends and unanswered questions.

The beginning was great. Well, confusing; but that’s what made it great. It gave you things to think about and a reason to keep reading. Yet soon enough those questions are answered and it takes a quick turn into a love story. The characters themselves are... interesting. Even if one in particular is abusive, misogynistic and generally rather revolting. On that note, just a little let-you-know: This book does contain strong language/swearing, does mention sexual themes (some non-consensual) and there are also mentions of suicide and other triggering/distressing topics, if you have any concerns or if you wish to know more before giving this book a read, feel free to message me.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy this book, even though I really wanted to. I wouldn’t read it again and therefore only rate it a 2 out of 5, as it could have been so much more.

Have you read Collins’ ‘The Binding’? Did you enjoy it?

Take care,

Sophie x

Disclaimer: As mentioned in my 'Terms and Conditions' page, I am not asked to write my book reviews, contacted by the author/publisher in any way nor have I been given anything in exchange for my reviews, unless otherwise stated.

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