The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Bridget Collins comes to the blog with her debut title for adults, a concept heretofore unheard of and quite compelling in

The Binding

I’m one of the readers who grabbed this book for the concept of bookbinding – taking fears, memories, secrets and shames and locking them away inside the binding of a book – to be shelved and tucked aside as you continue your life. Far from an easy or even pat solution, just in the premise you can imagine the myriad of ways this can go pear-shaped: from intentionally disguising / forgetting memories of events that could shape you as a person to removing you from your life (think It’s a Wonderful Life and George Bailey’s wish), so I was anxious to dive in.

And, the book is quite clearly divided into three sections – the first consumed with everyone BUT the characters understanding their place and purpose – while others know but can’t tell them. Oh it was painful and very slow – with these hints that weren’t and a sense that bleak and ‘never to see the sunshine again in a happy way’ were prevalent. Surprisingly, as much as I despise the “smugness’ of the trope where mostly I have a little kid sing-songing I know something you don’t know running through my head, Collins prose is lovely and imaginative, descriptive and quite easy to visualize scenes and moments even through the gloom.

The second part of the book brings in some lightness and answers – as well as a twist that I don’t think it was possible to anticipate. The flashback contained here really had possibly the lightest moments of the book, and it seemed to keep the unpleasant characters (of which there were many) confined to the edges and outside – allowing Emmett to give us some hope for him (and readers) to find some happiness in what has, to this point, been a fairly bleak rendition of the world. People aren’t nice and wanting to see the best in others here – they are horrible and often driven by their worst impulses (perhaps spurring the need for binders) and the concept of ‘guilt’ and ‘remorse are lost. But with the twists and a few other surprises here – the story moves forward and my hopes for a happier resolution (this isn’t an HEA sort of book) were fading.

The final ‘section’ of this book -and mind, they are sections simply in focus and feeling drew us to the end with more bleakness and unpleasantness with a new perspective that, in my opinion, was bringing coals to Newcastle. It was far more stark than I expected, and while my hopes for an HEA were small and near-silent with the tone, the settling into the relationship (and a queer one at that) was a nice twist that I didn’t expect to find. I think that throughout my read I wanted more of the book binding and the lore surrounding it -how choices were made and perhaps more of the fantastical and magical elements that I had thought would be contained within the pages. But, the writing and the concept while bleak and far darker than I had expected (or would hope) added to what felt very ‘uneven’ in pacing and revelations and made this an OK read – not great, not horrible, but far less enjoyable than the buzz led me to believe. And there is MY lesson – buzz about titles for me rarely translates into a title I can’t live without.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Title: The Binding
Author: Bridget Collins
Genre: Coming of Age, Dark-theme, LGBTQ, Literary Fiction, Magic, transgressive / speculative, Witches
Published by: The Borough Press
ISBN: 0008272115
Published on: 16 April, 2019
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 448
Audio Length: 15 Hours: 30 minutes
Rated: three-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound Book Depository GoogleAudible
See this Title on Goodreads

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


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 Festival, Fringe. The Binding is her first adult novel


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