Book Review

The Bookbinder’s Daughter

The Bookbinder’s Daughter

  • Author: Jessica Thorne
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 20, 2021
  • Publisher: Bookouture

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: emotionally abusive relationship, death of a parent, trauma, infidelity, death, violence, gun violence

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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 started reading this and got some serious Sorcery of Thorns vibes right away. The story takes place in a huge library, that’s magical, of course. The love of libraries and books comes through loud and clear, so naturally I was on board early. I liked the characters, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some dyslexia representation. 

However, the dyslexia was erased partway through the book because … magic. As a person with a disability other than dyslexia, it irks me when a disability is magically fixed — it’s a form of erasure, and I think that it could have been represented better by keeping it. It means a lot to people with disabilities to see ourselves in a character, and it’s heartbreaking to see ourselves erased magically. 

I enjoyed learning a bit more about the book binding process, especially since this is done in an old-fashioned way. Sophie genuinely loves books, and it’s a family business that she’s taken up. All along the way, there are hints and foreshadowing informing us that there’s more going on in the library, but I was always surprised by the plot twists that arose. 

The story was a fast read, but there’s some action, some mystery, and some romance. The romance was a bit on the insta-love side of things, although Will and Sophie were reunited childhood sweethearts. Overall, the story was unique and intriguing, and I truly did enjoy it. I couldn’t put it down, and wanted to know what was going to happen next. Plus, the writing style was easy to process, and I liked how it was written. All I need is to find a library like Ayredale and I’ll be happy for life!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 8

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