Blurb (as 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.
The Binding has thrown me into a pool of uncertainty. When I read the blurb, I did expect some mystical elements, if not magic out front. A binder can bind memories, or in simple terms, take one’s memories away and turn them into a beautiful book. But memories are tricky creatures and they come back with a lot of drama, but that’s a different mystery altogether.
Emmett Farmer is a born binder, and he is chosen as an apprentice at Seredith’s (who is this old lady who lives in a big house near the marshes and is often called a witch). He doesn’t really know what binders do, and hence he starts to despise Seredith when she tells him his job description.
The Binding is centered around Emmett, his mysterious illness and his ‘vacant eyes’ when he sees Lucian Darney. Who is he? you ask! but that would spoil all the fun.
Okay, so the writing is superb. The author uses ornamental language, takes in all the details and writes it with finesse etc. The plot is predictable. Its a classic story (you’ll know when you read it) but the author has kept the intrigue intact with her writing.
Most of the characters in the book are annoying. Emmett is probably the only guy I really liked, and in all honesty, he was always fragile and misunderstood one. The characters had no potential to grow because the plot deals with memories rather than experience, and that is superbly done. The characters are also very flawed and edgy, which adds to the overall charm of the book.
So, I have come to the conclusion that ‘The Binding’ should be read with an open mind. The atmospheric writing is what holds the book together.