Title: The Bookbinder’s Daughter
Author: Jessica Thorne
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Realism
Narrator: Charlie Norfolk
Length: 10 hours (248 pages)
Release Date: September 20, 2021
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Content Warnings: toxic relationship, death, gun violence, infidelity
The song surrounded her now, the murmuring of the library insistent, and her foot took the first step on the winding stairs. She knew it wasn’t entirely a dream. It was the library calling her, its magic driving her.
When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. Will she finally discover what happened to the woman she’s always believed abandoned her?
Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?
The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…
‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’
An absolutely spellbinding read about long-hidden family secrets and the magic that lurks between the pages of every ancient book. Perfect for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Night Circus and The Binding.
I was immediately intrigued by the premise of a mysterious, magical library and a dark family secret. I thought this would be the perfect cozy fantasy for early fall to transition into spooky season.
However, the characters were very one-dimensional and the pacing was uneven. The story mostly meandered slowly until it got to a point where so much happened all at once that it was overwhelming. I didn’t truly get a sense of the magic until over halfway through the book, and there was so much lore and backstory to piece together. I just didn’t fully understand how this library worked.
Even though the story wasn’t quite there for me, the atmosphere and descriptive writing were lovely and magical. I enjoyed the audiobook, but I wish it had two narrators for Sophie and Will’s POVs. This is truly a book for book lovers.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ALC.