Emmett Farmer’s days are spent working at his family farm, all the while striving to keep the symptoms of his illness from taking over. But when a letter comes for him, he finds himself sent off to be a binder’s apprentice.
In a world where the art of binding – taking away people’s painful memories and binding them in books – is met with scorn, Emmett unravels hidden truths about his life that he’d never have anticipated.
I love the premise of this novel! As an avid reader, books about books are certainly high up on my reading list. But the way Bridget Collins weaves magic with her words, I was spellbound.
There’s an almost cinematic edge to her writing style. It is so luxurious and vivid that the world Collins has created opens up in your mind with every scene that she establishes and uses to its full potential.
Its seamless merging of the gothic and the fantastical made it such an engaging read for me.
The idea of “binding”, i.e. writing a book to make memories less painful is beautifully captured in the story. Although, the argument of whether erasing such memories is the way to go about it is debatable. In Emmett’s words, “Who are you to say what they can live with?“
I loved many aspects of this novel – the writing, the location, and the magic system.
For these alone, I would highly recommend that you pick it up. But please go into it knowing that the book requires trigger warnings for rape, suicidal ideation, and suicide.
The novel has 3 parts, each of which presents us with a different version of Emmett. And although the book follows a non-linear narrative style, I enjoyed being able to form a complete picture of Emmett’s journey and hardships.
I’m not going to get into the details of the plot points or what happens in these parts because going into it without too much knowledge was a lovely surprise for me, so I’d suggest the same for you.
The way the author incorporates this element of magic also borrows from history and reflects how witches were persecuted in olden times. When Seredith talks about Crusaders hunting binders, you get the gist of how society will always try to weed out divergence and quell their fears with violence.
I wished that Darnay Senior’s storyline had had an appropriate conclusion, something befitting the horrendous character that he is. There’s one other element that I didn’t particularly agree with, and it involves deceiving a family member. You’ll probably guess what I mean as you read it.
Overall, The Binding is one of the highlights of my 2022 reading. I will certainly be picking up more of Bridget Collins’ works.