Emmett comes from a farming family and he’s bedridden with a mysterious illness when a letter arrives summoning him to become apprentice to a bookbinder. His parents mysteriously say they have no choice, and Emmett swiftly finds himself plucked from his life into an unknown and uncertain future.
Emmett's master is Seredith, an old woman living alone on the marshes. Slowly but surely Seredith teaches Emmett the tradesman skills required to bind books. Working with vellum, paper, leather scraps, gold foiling, glue and more, this was by far my favourite part of the story. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Collins is an amateur bookbinder herself and her experience clearly shines through. As Emmett learned these same skills, I yearned - along with him - to discover more about the process of binding a person's memories.
I was happy for the entire book to be about Emmett, his apprenticeship and relationship with Seredith however we were soon jerked out of that story and thrust in a new direction. Ahhhh! In fact, I'm still mourning the early trajectory of the novel, and can only hope Collins pens another novel in this world, and completes the reader's desire to know absolutely everything about the bookbinding process.
The Binding is a combination of fantasy and historical fiction or historical fiction meets urban fantasy. It doesn't clearly straddle either genre and I loved that it contained hints of folklore and myth whilst remaining rooted in reality.
And that cover, wow! I have to comment on the overall presentation, because it's an absolute masterpiece. The Binding is a stunning book to hold in your hands. Deckled edged pages are bound in a glorious spine with gold foiling designed to look like an embossed leather tome. The cover design is deliciously intricate and the French flap adds even further to the appeal. It's sublime and to truly enjoy reading The Binding, you simply must read a physical copy.
I loved The Binding - in spite of the altered direction - and can't wait to see what Bridget Collins writes next.
My rating = *****
My rating = *****