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.
Magical realism is more often miss than hit for me, and romance really isn’t my cup of tea. So I shouldn’t have liked this book. Yet I Loved it.
This is set in a world in which memories can be wiped by binding them in books. This brings all kinds of consequences, such as illegal trade in books, masters letting their servants get bound after raping them, and the poor selling of their memories to get by.
We follow Emmett, son of a farmer who cannot work on the fields anymore because of a mysterious illness. He becomes an apprentice binder, and this is what we see in the first part of the book, the concept of binding. But then Emmett finds out he has been bound himself and we learn what he forgot. His life before the illness, when he and his sister meet the charming Lucian Darnay.
This is such a good story, and it completely sucked me in. I stayed up waaaay too late to finish it. The world-building is superb, the writing beautiful, the character well-developed, and the romance realistic.
I don’t know what more to say, other than that I very much enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it.