“It’s a tune I know like my own heartbeat, like the rushing of my blood, but I can never quite capture it.“
Jessica Thorne ~ The Bookbinder’s Daughter
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?
Books are themselves a subtle magic with libraries mysterious places full of stories waiting to escape and infiltrate the minds of the readers.
The Bookbinder’s Daughter by Jessica Thorne weaves all of these together into a magical story with a few surprises.
Thorne is an excellent writer and the first few chapters were immediately gripping and engaging, full of intriguing characters, mythology and peril. It’s entirely believable as we see Sophie find her strength and escape her controlling relationship and return to her childhood home where she belongs.
Nothing is as it seems so we are suspicious of everyone and questioning everything to try to understand what is going on. The fantastical elements appear rather suddenly, considering the first part of the book is considering family relationships, but once I started to appreciate the mysterious magic of Ayredale, I found the two blended seamlessly. The attention to detail when it comes to the descriptions of each element are stunning and my mind’s eye could picture everything clearly. I would actually have liked to see more magic, once it became a central theme, but it seemed almost secondary to Sophie’s memory of her mother’s disappearance, which was a shame.
Will and Tia are excellent characters, strong yet intriguing with plenty of secrets to hide. Sophie felt weak for a large portion of the book and I really wanted her to face her fears and regain the confidence from her youth. I did think that Victor and Arthur needed a bit more depth, as they seemed to morph from manipulative, arrogant men into full-on villains quite quickly.
The finale is a little rushed and chaotic, and I think it could have been structured slightly better so it fitted better into the rest of the book. Perhaps Thorne was not confident enough in the ending and chose not to devote the same time and meticulousness of her word choices to the last few pages.
That said, I was engrossed in the characters and the magic of the library and thoroughly enjoyed the story.
I was provided with an ARC by NetGalley. All opinions my own.