“When the letter came I was out in the fields, binding up my last sheaf of wheat with hands that were shaking so much I could hardly tie the knot.”
Imagine a world where you can have memories taken out of your head, bound into a book and no longer troubling you. Novels are merely cheap fakes, the real stories are people’s lives and will catch you up in their once-reality.
Emmett Farmer is recovering from a long, mysterious illness when he approached to be an apprentice to the local Binder. She teaches him how to make and cover books, each a work of art, but he still doesn’t understand what she does with the visitors who come asking for her help.
I really loved the idea of this world, the books that are so beautiful often housing very dark secrets. The sense of mystery in the opening chapters is just enough to hook you in, waiting to find out what’s going on.
Alas, once we’ve got the world building out of the way, the story takes a turn and I really wasn’t impressed. You have Binding and memory removal – and you turn it into a love story? Urgh. I am not a fan of romances, to be honest. And I’m increasingly not a fan of fantasy that picks up real-world prejudices. I’d rather read about worlds where it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, gay or straight, black or white. To have the whole story hinge on at least one of those being a Huge Bad Thing just soured it all for me.
That said, the writing is good, and the story is very well presented – although I did get confused, repeatedly, by the switch of first person point of view for the third part. Somehow that never quite clicked in my brain. Still, that it wasn’t the fantasy wonder I was hoping for didn’t stop me reading and enjoying what was there.
NetGalley eARC: 448 pages / 28 chapters
First published: 2019
Read from 12th-30th June 2019
My rating: 6/10 – well enough written, but not my cuppa