Part historical fiction, part magical realism: The Binding
This book has an unusual premise...set in medieval times, a young man is sent to apprentice with a binder…someone who could pull out unwanted memories and save them in a book. Then he discovers there’s a book with his name on it and that changes his life. Along the way there are unscrupulous and cruel characters as well as a forbidden love and magical books.
The Binding, Bridget Collins
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Published 2019, 437 pages
I loved the premise of this book - the magical ability of a binder to remove unwanted memories and allow the person to continue in their life. However, I really wanted more focus on that....how a memory is removed and bound into a book. It was barely touched on, instead it was all hints and ‘common knowledge’ without any specifics. There was definitely room for more development in this aspect.
Divided into three sections, the first is the story of how Emmett comes to be apprenticed to a binder; the second is in first person from Emmett’s perspective of his forbidden, star-crossed-lovers relationship with Lucian; the final section is in first person from Lucian’s perspective as he struggles to come to terms with his hated life.
“I’d do almost anything not to have to be myself anymore. I imagine a binding like a doorway, leading you into an empty room. You can clear your life away. Start again.”
I enjoyed the middle section the most, following the developing love affair between Emmett and Lucian. However, every time the talk of binding comes up, the writing gets tied up in too many ways to describe gray, fuzzy, hazy, off-kilter, sounds and vision impaired, until I was bored with it. The wrap-up seemed a bit melodramatic and yet strangely satisfying at the same time.
The question of whether to take advantage of the capability of removing a memory whenever you want (for a fee, of course), is an interesting point for discussion. And what happens when someone takes advantage of their position of power and forces a person to bind a memory in order to hide a crime?
This book gets major points for a unique story premise and for character development of Emmett and Lucian. For me, it falls a little short in the execution, but it is still a very readable and interesting novel.
photos by Terrie Purkey