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The Binding by Bridget Collins

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | | .
Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
I really do not know how to start and finish with this review.
The Binding is described as ‘a genre-defying fusion of history and magic, gripping and pacy, with a twist…’ It is the brainchild of Bridget Collins, a writer many of you may know from her writings in the YA world of fiction. The Binding is her first adult novel and just wow!

Due for release with The Borough Press on 10th Jan 2019, this is one book you do not want to miss out on folks. The Binding is probably one of the most original and unique books I have ever read.

Imagine if we could hide away our most frightening memories, locked between pages and in a special vault where they are safe from the prying eyes of the outside world? Imagine, once this happens, that we no longer are even aware of their existence and those fearful memories are erased completely from our minds. Imagine what would happen if the powers associated with the magic of these books were to fall into the wrong hands? Imagine. Imagine. Imagine…..

This is the story of Emmett Farmer, a young boy living with his parents and sister, farming the land. Something is clearly not right with Emmett at the beginning of his story as he recovers from some tragic incident in his life. He is rebuilding his strength but he is struggling. A letter arrives one day with a demand for his services from a local Bookbinder, to train as an apprentice. Emmett is frightened. Emmett is wary. His parents always warned him to stay away from books. They were fearful of them, surrounded by like-minded folk who all carried the same superstitions.


‘But now they were sending me to the binder; as though whatever danger Pa had warned me against had been replaced by something much worse. As though now I was the danger.’

One of the many fascinating things about this book is the research behind it. Bridget Collins studied bookbinding some time back and was ‘immediately seduced by it; by the processes that haven’t changed in centuries, the materials – the coloured papers, gold embroidery, silk, leather – and the tools, which are made of wood and bone and metal. It was all wonderfully tactile, with a sort of subtle glamour that made me imagine another, older, world. Being an incorrigible daydreamer I suppose it was inevitable that I’d pretend I was an apprentice, and start to imagine a life around me’

At the same time Bridget Collins was a volunteer working with The Samaritans, hearing the stories and the tragic lives of the many people she came in contact with on a daily basis. ‘I began to wonder what would happen if I could simply reach out and take that story away from them, leaving them to begin again’

Combining these two experiences with her fascination for the whole subject of memory loss, the story of The Binder began to take form and the character of Emmett Farmer was born.

The bookbinder that Emmett is sent to is a wondrous person. Initially in fear, Emmett soon becomes in awe of what she is and what she does. Emmett is only allowed access to the binding at the cosmetic level, as his skills develop and his passion for the trade starts to unfurl. He learns to accept the truth of what she does and what his future may be. It’s a hard and difficult life for Emmett, as the bookbinder lives in a very remote location, with minimal contact with the nearest villagers but he learns to survive and to continue his apprenticeship in this very hostile environment.

But as time passes, circumstances change and Emmett finds himself in a frightening situation…..he discovers his name on one of the books. But why? What has Emmett done in his past? What memory was removed?

We are taken on an incredible journey of magic and intrigue as we enter a world like no other. A world where books exist, but not as we know them today. A world where the novel is born. A world where our worst nightmares can be swept away but also where evil deeds are hidden between pages and locked in vaults and safes.

The Binding is a phenomenal tale of a forbidden love, involving dark forces and mysterious happenings. It is a compelling and spellbinding novel full of intrigue, suspicion and savagery.

An extraordinarily unique tale, so full of originality and with a premise that quite frankly just blew me away. Hypnotic, mesmerizing…. I loved it!  

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.