Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins – A Stunning, Spellbinding Tale for Bookworms

Hello all! I recently bought a signed UK edition from someone in a Facebook group. I was mainly enticed by the beautiful cover and the even more beautiful case design/naked cover underneath, but the story also intrigued me so I started to read an e-copy from the library while I waited for the physical copy to arrive. Well….. I may have finished the e-copy before the book even arrived, but that’s okay! Gives me more of a reason to keep it pristine and beautiful on my shelf!

Without further ado, let’s get into the book’s details and my review!

*Warning, there may be minor spoilers, but then again, it’ll nothing you couldn’t gather from looking at the goodreads tags or skimming reviews)


About the Book

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Title: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Publisher: Borough Press

POV: 1st Person

Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance

Release Date: 1/10/2019

Page Count: 437 pages

Goodreads

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.


Review

Pros

  • Absolutely beautifully written
  • Unique magic system
  • LGBTQ+ Romance!!!
  • Vividly detailed scenes and descriptions
  • A unique world that is very similar to ours, but decidedly different
  • Tackles heavier subjects and the darker implications behind book binding

Cons

  • The big time jumps and pov change weren’t marked, which could be confusing, but it’s also not too hard to figure out
  • Doesn’t stay in Emmett’s POV the entire time
  • I wish there was more of the actual binding magic shown on the page

I’m not even sure where to begin with my review! I loved this book so much. It was a 5 star read that had me hooked from the start. From the first pages, we get the sense that our MC, Emmett, is strangely unwell, and that secrets are being kept from him. I loved the sense of mystery and secrecy that was present throughout the 1st section of the book, and how some things don’t get answered until the 2nd of even 3rd part of the novel! New questions are constantly brought up and you’re constantly wondering “what happened?” but in a good way. Don’t worry, as most questions are ultimately answered.

As I said in my pros and cons, the writing is so vivid and rich. I could imagine the characters and scenery as though I were watching a movie. This is especially true of my favorite section, the second part, where the action primarily stays in one general area. I was able to imagine this area so vividly that I can still recall it even over two weeks after finishing the book! As I read, I was constantly highlighting and flagging passages and quotes that were particularly beautiful.

Of course, no book is without its flaws. One fault I found with the book was that we don’t get to see much of the binding magic on the page. Our main character only performs it on the page once, practically by accident, and I wish we learned more about this unique magic system, how it’s performed. Luckily, we do learn a lot about the darker sides of bookbinding and how its perceived by different types of people, which was interesting and brings up an interesting point about the consequences and corruption that come with a society where memories can be removed so easily. Another minor (and silly!) gripe I had with the book was that I wanted more! I won’t spoil the ending, but I wish that there was an epilogue, or maybe a full on sequel! But then again, it wrapped up the loose threads that needed to be wrapped up, so I can’t complain too much. One last issue I had was that at times (especially in the first section) the story dragged a little bit. However, out main character is experiencing a lot of monotony and repetitive work, so in a way, we’re experiencing it alongside him.

The Binding completely blew me away with its lyrical, descriptive prose that captured scenes and characters perfectly, as well as its unique plot and surprising romantic twist on what I thought would be a historical fantasy story. I was transfixed and stayed up late into the night to finish reading the book. This book gets 5 stars from me, and I’d recommend it to people looking for a breathtaking, beautiful alternative world historical fantasy novel to transfix them for a few hours.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you so much for reading my review! If you’ve read this beautiful, let me know what you thought in the comments below!


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