Review: ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins

“Imagine you could erase your grief.

Imagine you could forget your pain.

Imagine you could hide a secret.


The tagline for The Binding is just as full of mystery and intrigue as the book itself. The story of how a young man named Emmett Farmer is torn away from his family, and the life he knows working the fields, to be apprenticed to a book binder, is filled with unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.

Emmett learns how each book that his Mistress, Seredith, binds contains a memory that someone wishes to forget. However studying this craft doesn’t come without it’s risks, and the underground world of buying and selling for personal collection – of both memories and books – is a dark place. The real journey begins when Emmett discovers that one of the books in Seredith’s collection bears his name and holds his secrets inside. Emmett’s story is one of adventure, friendship, love, and heartbreak and at its centre lies a classic coming-of-age narrative which everyone can relate to. Finding your place in the world is a scary feat for anyone who has all their memories, never mind for Emmett who doesn’t know what hides in his book and what the name Lucian Darnay may really mean to him.

Collins’ prose is clear and compelling, and you can’t help but keep reading to find out what happens next. She is not afraid to write from different perspectives and to tackle some very complex ideas and issues. In particular she has a very refreshing approach to LGBTQ+ relationships, which doesn’t overstate the diversity she is presenting and lies very naturally within the plot. The world she creates for Emmett is filled with magic and feels both modern and progressive but also presents a very nostalgic, Victorian aesthetic. This is something extended to the cover of the book which is covered with a gorgeous dark blue floral design and gold lettering it looks just as beautiful as the intricate designs that binders cover their books with. Although this is only Collins’ first adult novel, she shows great promise and I’ll be excited to see what she writes next.

I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of this book by Harper Collins over the summer and I absolutely lapped it up. It was published earlier this month and I advise anyone who loves gothic literature, a good romance, or mysterious thrillers to go out and read it. This book really has something for everyone and it’s impossible not to fall in love with its charming characters and exhilarating story.

– Emma Hewetson


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