The Binding by Bridget Collins

Today, I am reviewing Bridget Collins’ first Adult Fiction work, The Binding. Collins is an established Young Adult author. The Binding story is multi layered and immersed in the genres of Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Mystery and with Gothic undertones; where nothing is what it seems to be and with elements of folklore, magical realism and escapism, where expected norms and boundaries are broken. Collins looks at societies and how humans exist within them, even with a hint of the US DADT policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Collins’ prose is almost enchanting. The story is divided into three parts; the first is set in the present and is written from Emmett’s perspective and paced quite slowly, the second is set in the past and prior to Emmett’s illness and before he knew about Bookbinding and the third and last is set in the present again, but through another’s eyes. These different time frames allow the story to unfold, allowing for small and sensitive events to be told. Collins uses both different writing styles and emotions for these three sections of the story.

The world that Collins creates is inviting and relatable, with the exploration of themes around humanity; love and hate, kindness and cruelty, hard or difficult choices, guilt and innocence. We navigate this world through the eyes of the two protagonists, Emmett and Lucian, as they drive the story both individually and through their love for each other.

To be a Bookbinder is an innate state, almost sacred and a birthright which is inescapable, but there are those who are greedy and unethical. These Bookbinders use their binding skills to be cruel and abuse those who are having their memories bound. Emmett’s journey becomes very dark, with trigger warnings for abuse and violence, including sexual, emotional, suicidal, homophobia, incest, the death of animals and murder.

Collins’ descriptive imagery and symbolism carries our imaginations and understandings of the characters and the storylines, an example being the seasons of love and pain;
Spring seemed to come earlier than usual, there were a few more snowstorms after the year had turned, but not many, and by the second full moon the snow was pockmarked and lacy, dissolving into piles of brown-edged slush…….and then overnight the trees woke up and sucked the water out of the ground, and the air smelt of greenness and growing. I’d always loved the first days of spring, when suddenly the prison of winter broke’. p 213

The way that we love our books today would have made it difficult for us to dread and hate the books in Emmett’s world, but I do really like this book. On page 18 Emmett remembers, ‘Pa hit me and then he said, Don’t ever let me see you with a book again’. The Binding looks at some different meanings and uses for the word binding, when you read it see if you can see how some characters are bound to each other and in what ways. Enjoy!

The Binding is available to borrow as a print copy or as an eBook on BorrowBox.


The Binding by Bridget Collins
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