Cover Image: The Bookbinder's Daughter

The Bookbinder's Daughter

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Member Reviews

The Bookbinder’s Daughter is the magical new novel by Jessica Thorne. As soon as I read the description of this book I knew I had to read it and it did not disappoint! Captivating me from the very first page, The Bookbinder’s Daughter is a spellbinding read about magic and long hidden family secrets. With a gripping plot and characters you can’t help but fall in love with, I loved every word of this hauntingly beautiful book.

When Sophie is offered a job at the prestigious Ayredale Library she is at first reluctant to take up the offer. After all, this is the last place she saw her bookbinder mother before she disappeared fifteen years ago when Sophie was a teenager. But when her circumstances suddenly change, she realises that a new job could be exactly what she needs. And so she embarks on a journey that will reawaken old memories, introduce her to old friends and new… and maybe, just maybe, even lead her to discover what actually happened to her mother all those years ago.

Beautifully written, The Bookbinder’s Daughter swept me away on a magical journey of intrigue and suspense, keeping me enthralled from beginning to end. It’s the kind of book I love, with wonderful characterisation and a magical storyline that kept me guessing throughout. Jessica Thorne is a born storyteller and I can’t wait to read whatever she comes up with next.
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This book was adorable but I have to say that it really didn't stand out against others of its kind.  I wish that there would have been more danger or just something to make it stand apart from others about the same thing.  The ending was really good and I still say that it was worth the read.  I just wished that it would have had something to make it stand out more on its own.
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I loved the concept of this book. It had everything I look for, magic, intrigue, romance and centred around a library which was a character in itself. Sophie was the central character, linked to the library through her family and birthright. The library became more alive as the book progressed.

I wanted to love this book, and there were many things I did enjoy. However, I found many descriptions were repetitive without providing any greater understanding, and the concepts around the nature of the library a little garbled. Consequently, as the book progressed I found myself detaching from the story. The last third of the book increased in pace to an exciting and dramatic ending. I did enjoy it well enough, but unless some of these issues are addressed, I won’t be reading any sequel that comes along.
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I really wanted to like this one because I found the concept so fascinating, but ultimately I didn’t love it. To stay spoiler free I will say that while the concept/plot absolutely fascinating but I was at too much of a remove from the main character to feel fully invested in the story.
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I was instantly drawn to this book when I saw it on @netgalley.  A beautifully whimsical cover with a story set in a magical old-world library, what’s not to love.

Perfectly paced and beautifully written I was transported to Ayredale Library and surrounded by its collection of rare and mysterious books.

After a bitter break from her controlling boyfriend, Sophie leaves London and returns to her the home of her childhood, Ayredale Library after receiving a letter from her Uncle Edward.  Sophie feels it’s the perfect time to not only work with her Uncle and take on the role of book binder but try and learn the truth about her past.  Her mother was an intricate part of the library before her mysterious disappearance when Sophie was younger.

The library instantly comes alive through the writing and you feel as if you can almost reach out and touch the shelves.

Old feelings soon are reignited with Sophie sees her childhood friend Will again after all this time, but Will is keeping his distance, almost guarded around her.  What isn’t he telling her about that day all those years before when her mother disappeared?  What secrets are hidden behind the library’s walls?

The library itself holds a great many secrets, as the world building and magic comes to life throughout the story.  On reflection I wish a little more could have been given to some of the back-story and the characters but overall this was a really enjoyable read and one that I’m thankful I had the opportunity to experience.

A huge thank you to @netgalley and @bookature for my copy of this wonderful book.
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This book was just magical!
Magic trees, magic library, magic people, everything!
It was such a unique and interesting read - very much light/dark academia vibes with betrayal, drama and familial secrets!
Our MC, Sophie, was pretty much your average women with her own trauma and loss, trying to deal with new circumstances. 
She reconnects with her childhood best friend and things just go up from there
Will and Sophie’s relationship was so wholesome and sweet that I could not stop reading! Even though the book wasn’t super romance-driven, it was definitely a prevalent element and I loved it. 
The world-building and lore surrounding the library itself and its people could have had more time to be fleshed out, but overall it was a fabulously magical read!
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so much potential, but just didn't hit the mark. The idea of the book was so intriguing. I didn't relate to the main character. She just seemed so one dimensional. The writing itself had a dreamy qualty to it which I loved but the story itself needed more bones.
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An electronic copy was supplied by NetGalley for review purposes.

Sophie’s mother, a talented book binder, went mysteriously missing while working at the Ayredale Library when Sophie was 15 years old. Her memories of the Library, the finest collection of rare books in the world, are missing and hard to grasp – a result of the trauma of her mother’s disappearance.

All grown up, a bookbinder herself, living in the shadow of her controlling boyfriend and mourning the death of her Father, Sophie is approached by her Uncle and offered a job at the library…a chance to discover exactly what happened to her Mother and escape what her life has become.

What I liked about it?
Who doesn’t love a magical and mysterious library? If a magical library is mentioned, I’m there! Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches, the library at Hogwarts, Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series, Garth Nix’s Lirael, Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next. Offer me a library with magic and I am there!

The Bookbinder’s Daughter introduces the Ayredale Library as a place of magic, mystery and tragedy for Sophie. At first, it makes you wonder if it is a magical place, or if the whispering, the dreams and the secret language are just Sophie’s history re-emerging as she returns to the Library. Then, Thorne takes you deep into the Library where an impossible tree feeds the magic of the world.

Sophie is a good narrator. A little nervous, overwhelmed by the changes in her life, but she blossoms under the shelter of the Library, under the teachings of the Keeper and in her relationships with Will and Tia. Her decision making is sometimes questionable – but that just made her character feel natural, a good person but flawed.

I often complain when reading fantasy books that the magic of the world feels disconnected. How does it work, where does it come from? In The Bookbinder’s Daughter, the magic – The Art – is not at the heart of the story, but it is used to influence events and is explained enough not to distract from the plot.

I loved that I didn’t predict the twist – I could see the intentions of certain characters but I couldn’t foresee their actions or guess at their motivations. It made the climax of the story more intense and enthralling.

What I didn’t like: I struggled with the Victor narrative. I didn’t see his purpose – I think his role could have been filled without the intimate connection with Sophie. It’s hard to tell if I didn’t like the use of the character, or if he was so real that he made my skin crawl and I just didn’t like him.

Cover thoughts: It caught my eye on NetGalley when combined with the title. It is beautiful but I would have been happier with a library scene.

Rating: 5 stars
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A little reminiscent of The Night Circus and the works of Anna-Marie McLemore, this novel is whimsical, atmospheric, and bookish. I love the library setting -- the author described it so vividly, you almost believe it's a real place, along with the other famous libraries that clearly served as influences and inspiration. I enjoyed the story-- the two main protagonists (Sophie and Will) are easy to root for, and the magic system unique and easy to understand. If any, I found myself a little frustrated near the ending as I felt both Will and Sophie could have been more less meek. All in all, it was an atmospheric, enjoyable read!
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As usual in my reviews I will not rehash the plot (plenty of reviews like that out there already!)

I was drawn to this title by my love of books, libraries, and everything associated with them (I would secretly have loved to become a bookbinder...)

I really enjoyed this novel; there are some excellent and intriguing characters, and unexplained mysteries, and the settings are well described (I loved the sound of the library and could picture it clearly).   A large pinch of magic - ancient magic at that! - and a good baddie or two adds to the mix. 

I was genuinely upset by events towards the end of the book, having become inordinately fond of some of the characters, but there was a ray of hope going forward.  My only complaint was that the end of the book felt too rushed (hence my 4 stars rather than 5) - so I'm hoping for a sequel...

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC.  All opinions my own.
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I was fascinated by this story from the moment I heard about it. I loved it and definitely will be rereading. The characters were amazing and I loved how they interacted with each other as well as the world
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This is such a unique, fantastical story! While I did feel that it dragged a bit in the middle, overall I found the plot absolutely captivating.  The characters were charming, if a bit one-dimensional. I recommend this story for lovers of libraries and magic.
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I was really excited to read this and found the premise intriguing. Unfortunately I couldn't get to grips with it and DNF.
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The Bookbinder’s Daughter is an enchanting look at magical libraries and the tomes they contain. I loved its premise and backdrop, and the tree of ideas that may or may not come to fruition. I enjoyed everything about the Ayredale library and its secrets.

And if I loved the characters as much as the rest of The Bookbinder’s Daughter, this would be an excellent read. Sophie is a doormat, pulled along by the whims and wants of others. Will can’t seem to find a backbone, not even when he risks losing everything. The villains are predictably villainous. About the only surprise is one of the library’s other employees, who’s not featured enough as a strong, integral character and is instead relegated to window dressing until the finale.

I had high hopes for The Bookbinder’s Daughter, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations. Still, pick it up for the imagination and creativity, and you’ll likely enjoy it if you don’t expect too much of its characters.

drey’s rating: Pick it up!
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I was surprised by how invested I was in this book - I'm usually much more of a realist in my reading. I found it magical but not ridiculous. Real life mixed with fantasy in a way that made the fantastical believable. I loved everything about it. I thought Sophie's abusive relationship with Victor was written well. The ending where we discovered how long plotting had been going on was a shocker. Just a lovely read. #netgalley #thebookbindersdaughter
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Loved this story and it will be one I will definitely be rereading. The characters were amazing and I loved seeing how they interacted with each other as well as the world.
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A fantasy book set in a library, what's not to like for avid readers. 
Sophie returns to Ayredale, the library where she last saw her mother, but this is no ordinary library, for inside is the special collection and the tree of life. 
I wanted to enjoy the book more than I did, unfortunately I felt the story dragged a bit in the middle, I found myself speed reading pages to finish. However by the last quarter I was fascinated to see how everything would pull together
Many thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review
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I love stories about magic and libraries so of course I wanted to read this book. Sophie is the daughter of two talented bookbinders that live in an enchanting library. She and her best friend Will have fun playing together in the library.  When Sophie is 15, Will’s half-brother, Arthur, dares them to go where they know they don’t belong and it ends in tragedy. Sophie’s mother disappears and her father drags her away from everything that is home and forbids her from discussing what happened. Gone is her loving father. She is sent to off to boarding school and her father has little contact with her except to teach her his expert skill of bookbinding. Fast forward to the present. Her memories of the library and the tragic event are mostly gone but manifest in her dreams and nightmares.  Sophie finds herself in a controlling relationship so after her father’s death, when her uncle offers her a great job at the prestigious library that was her former home, she immediately returns. She is on a mission to find out what happened that fateful day but what she isn’t expecting is to rekindle her friendship with Will. There are a lot of secrets in that library and she is not sure whether being there will help her or destroy her like it did her mother. 
I liked the story. The concept was innovative and interesting, I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like it. I think the world building was really good but some more background on the magic of the library and of Sophie’s abilities would have been nice. I liked Will and Sophie. They had their flaws but not as many flaws as many of the other characters. Most of the other characters were not likable. The scholars and administrators of the library had so much experience managing it that it was a little unbelievable when sinister forces were so easily allowed in to wreak havoc. Also, I found it a little unbelievable that Sophie’s uncle would so readily work with her controlling ex-boyfriend, Victor. I still liked this story though, no matter it’s flaws. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Sophie grew up at  the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world. When she was fifteen her mother disappeared & she was ill for some time. She followed in her mother's footsteps becoming an expert. When her uncle offers her a job back at the library it is the perfect chance to escape her controlling boyfriend & to try & find out what happened to her mother. When back at the library she is happy to rekindle her relationship with Will as well as see the wonderful books- books that only she seems able  to read. The library is no ordinary library & Sophie feels as if she is being called to go deeper.

The thing I loved about this book was how skilfully the author incorporated the 'real' world with the fantasy world of the Library & the Axis Mundi. For me the two places merged seamlessly into a place I didn't want to leave. The descriptions were wonderful & I totally believed in the Library. (I did want to shake some spine into Sophie at time!) This is one of my favourite books of the year so far. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this terrific book.
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Early autumn is a time of witchy, magical reads packed full of interesting folklore and family secrets. That’s what I was expecting from this book but I think the idea was a bit too big for the execution.

Sophie is a bookbinder just like her parents were and she loves her work. When she is offered the chance to work at the prestigious Ayredale Library, which houses the most precious, rarest collection of books in the world, she jumps at the chance. For Sophie, it’s not just an exciting career move. It’s a chance to go back to her roots, re-ignite old connections and try to find out what happened to her mother who disappeared years before. But no one seems to want to give her any information and she seems to be the only one at Ayredale who can read from the strange grimoires in the collection.

Will is the library’s Keeper and he cares deeply about protecting the books. He’s also Sophie’s childhood friend and he has apparently grown up to be very handsome. I knew immediately that Sophie and Will would have a romance and although Sophie tried to make it seem like she wasn’t sure, there was never really any doubt in my mind that they would be.

Will has a rather complex background and that gets even more complicated as the story progresses. I didn’t realise the true nature of who he was until it was fully revealed and I wonder if I should have done. He has grown up rather lonely with only the books in the collection as his confidantes but I wondered why because he seems to have a good relationship with all of his co-workers. Other than it being a deliberate decision on his part, I didn’t really understand why he’d never managed to forge a meaningful connection with anyone in all of the intervening years since Sophie was last there.

Villus, or Titivillus to state his full name, is Will’s cat and he’s a fantastic, intriguing character who simply wanders around the library inflicting his magical feline presence on everyone. His true purpose comes to light towards the end of the book but I think I wanted more from this. There could have been a lot more expansion on his true nature and his story and I was left with a lot of questions surrounding him at the end.

The library itself is stunning, as many old, well-used and preserved libraries are. It does seem to be its own character with a wealth of fascinating history and secrets. I felt like the story of this book only really scratched the surface of what the library has seen and known. Although it is described as dark and imposing, I struggled to see it like that. There is dark magic inside the library but I wasn’t scared by the place at all because it seemed to be full of friendly, hopeful people who loved books and treasured knowledge. To me, the Ayredale Library is full of dimly lit rooms and winding staircases but also plenty of warmth and opportunities for adventure.

There is some attempt to explain the exact role the library plays in the running of the universe and I found this idea interesting. However, I wanted this to go deeper. There seems to be a lot of folklore and ancient magic tied up in the library’s origins but I didn’t think it was revealed in an enticing, gripping manner. By the time, the Tree of Knowledge came into it, I was losing threads and still quite unclear on what was really going on. Perhaps a few more chapters, where I got to spend more time in the library itself, would have cleared this up.

There were a few scenes that made me think that this book may be a very loose Beauty and the Beast retelling. Several elements such as Will being described as animal-like, the showing up of a less than savoury character from Sophie’s old life (a Gaston-esque character) and of course, the heavenly, endless library were uncanny. These inescapable comparisons gave the book a fairytale vibe but at the same time, it was so far removed from that story that I wasn’t sure if the similarities were intentional. It felt like perhaps the book started out as a straight Beauty and the Beast retelling but then that idea got abandoned and covered over with more ideas but in places, the original idea still shone through. 

The Bookbinder’s Daughter is an interesting concept with a lot of elements intertwining. It’s not the most original premise and it doesn’t quite tell a compelling story. I didn’t love any of the characters very much and that caused my attention to wane around the halfway mark. Overall, I think this book has the strange, witchy vibes down but too many abstract ideas and less than great storytelling.
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