Book Review: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

The Binding Song - Elodie Harper

Set in a prison and the main protagonist is a forensic psychologist – I need know nothing else – I’m reading this book!

Book Description:

Welcome to HMP Halvergate.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to leave.

Dr Janet Palmer was glad to take a new job as lead psychologist at a remote Norfolk prison. She may live to regret it….

The staff are hostile, violence can break out at any time, no one will tell her what happened to her predecessor, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, driving the prisoners to suicide.

Janet is determined to find answers. But the deeper she digs, the more she realises: something is rotten in Halvergate. And it’s nothing as simple as ghosts…

My Thoughts:

Dr Janet Palmer is my favourite kind of psychologist – a forensic psychologist; so, it should come as no surprise that this is a book I have been wanting to read for ages and one I had high expectations for. And nothing makes me happier than when a book meets all my expectations!

The Binding Song is a dark psychological thriller perfect for fans of character-driven novels. Dr Janet Palmer takes up a new post at Halvergate prison and she is tasked with running the prison’s sex offender treatment programme, so this is your warning – this novel deals with themes of rape that may be upsetting to some readers. This novel is clouded in darkness and has a great horror vibe to it that works to make this read extremely unsettling and disturbing at times.

What I most liked about this novel, was the character study of not only the prisoners but Janet and her colleagues too. You’ll meet some disturbing characters in this novel, and characters that have been disturbed by others. But you also get your likeable characters, most notably Janet Palmer; she’s determined and focused and working with some of the most dangerous men in the country, every day at work is a challenging one. To see how she handles herself, and through her work with the prisoners, we get a glimpse into the mind of the prisoners and I found this, in equal measures, fascinating and disturbing. Janet also has a vulnerable side to her, a weakness if you like, and it was interesting to see how she would cope as the rumours of the eyeless women stalking the prison become rifer.

This novel is made all the more unnerving by the fact that Janet has no allies in her colleagues, they are ready to discredit her at every turn. She does find some support in conversations with the prison’s Chaplin, but isolation is the last thing you want, especially when you don’t know if the rumours of the eyeless woman are true or not.

I found The Binding Song to be a gripping read, that held my full attention throughout. The setting, the themes and the characters – all dark. And this novel is so well written; a very impressive debut from Harper. She grabs your interest from the very first page and pulls you into the darkness and unnerves you. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

*My thanks to the publisher (Mulholland Books/Hodder & Stoughton) for granting me access to a digital copy of this title via Netgalley*

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