Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.
When Emmett Farmer receives a letter from a local bookbinder inviting him to be her new apprentice, he is reluctant and afraid, begging his parents not to send him away. He has only just recovered from an illness that ravaged his senses and cloaked everything he knew in darkness. For those long months, he was just a husk, a fevered body with no sight to see his mother’s fear or strength to peel himself from bed. When his parents ignore his pleas and demand he leave the following day, Emmett pacts his meagre belongings and departs his family home. The bookbinder’s shop is a cold, silent space, standing amid a desolate marshland. And the woman herself, distant and elusive, superstition and rumours surrounding who – or what – she is.
Emmett is put to work and gradually he finds a rhythm, derives a little comfort from the quiet work and the paste and paper. He is taught to make the most beautiful books, covers with gold foil and delicately cut pages. But he is lonely, mourning the absence of his sister and parents. His only distraction is the customers, the men and women who arrive haunted, tears smudged down their cheeks, then leave quiet, blank, as if they have been emptied, drained of their woes.
The book binder, Seredith, captures any unwanted memories and binds them inside the pages of a book. A death, a heartbreak or a mistake can be captured and erased within mere moments. And the books, all the memories Seredith has been asked to take away, are put away in her vault. Protected. Safe. Emmett finally feels he understands this mysterious trade but then he finds a book – a memory – that belongs to him and his life ruptures.
The Binding is a unique and powerful novel that evokes emotion in the reader with the first hypnotic sentence. Brimming with magic and atmosphere, it pins you to the pages and snatches your breath away. I fell hook, line and sinker in love with the rich, well-drawn characters, the unique concept and the poetic, raw prose.
This is a tale of romance and magic, of courage and cruelty, discovery and secrets. I loved every moment of it. I can’t wait to get my hands on that beautiful hardback, when it publishes on the 10th! I envy anyone who hasn’t read this yet! A work of wonder!
Magical. Unique. Emotional.
To pre-order a copy of this book, out on the 10th January, you can follow the links below:
About Bridget Collins
Bridget Collins trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after reading English at King’s College, Cambridge. She is the author of seven acclaimed books for young adults and has had two plays produced, one at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. THE BINDING is her first adult novel.
Huge thanks to Borough Press and Netgalley for my review copy!