Books are dangerous things in Collins’s alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It’s a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.
The Binding had me hooked from page one. Emmett lives in a world where books are not read for enjoyment or pleasure. He lives in a world where books are bound to hide secrets and memories people consider too painful to keep. Emmett is a binder’s apprentice and he learns what it means to bind memories. The concept of this novel is extraordinary. It intrigued me from the beginning and the magic is fascinating. Emmett’s relationship with Seredith teaches him what is important within his trade and to use his magic with consent.
Part One is filled with magic. I wanted this section of the novel to continue, simply because I had an interest in the everyday work of a binder and their talents. Emmett is an interesting and extraordinary character who has had a fairly normal life prior to his encounter with books.
Part Two is well written, as is the entire novel. It explains Emmett’s relationships with friends, family and his love interest. I longed for the magic in this part, however, enjoyed reading about the developing relationships between characters.
The last part of The Binding is mysterious and uncovers the mystery within the pages. My favourite aspects of the novel were the magical world created and the beauty of true love that is portrayed.
I would recommend this novel, as it is unlike any I have ever read.