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The Binding Song

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  76 reviews

A chilling debut for fans of Mo Hayder and Sharon Bolton, THE BINDING SONG takes you on a trip to Halvergate Prison. If you're lucky, you'll get to leave...

'Splendidly unsettling' John Connolly

Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published June 29th 2017 by Mulholland Books
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
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Zuky the BookBum
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, 2017
Trigger warning: this book contains descriptions of rape

There are very few psychological thrillers/ horrors set in the prison environment, so when I read the synopsis for this book, I was really excited to read it. This book is one you’ll find yourself racing through, it’s so quick and exciting you’ll be determined to not put it down.

Elodie Harper was the 2016 winner of Stephen King’s short story competition, and this is her debut full length novel (not of the same story). I’m surprised to find
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, the synopsis didn't indicate in any way that this had a supernatural element to it and as I prefer to go into a book blind I had to discover this for myself. Had I read the reviews already posted I would have picked this up a lot earler. So, although this aspect did come as a surprise to me it didn't affect my overall enjoyment.

Dr Janet Palmer is elated to have a new job as lead psychiatrist at HMP Halvergate located in remote Norfolk. Working to rehabilitate sex offenders, she attempts to
Liz Barnsley
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
**4.5 stars**

The Binding Song is brilliantly compelling, eminently creepy and one of those books that has you looking over your shoulder and eyeing strangers oddly as if they might suddenly leap up and shout BOO.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the story is utterly riveting, also extraordinarily haunting as you follow Janet, new recruit at Halvergate prison, trying to untangle the web of deceit left behind by her predecessor. Something evil stalks the corridors here but is it a human evil or some
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr Janet Palmer is the new psychologist at Halvergate prison. Six men, sex offenders are on a sex offenders treatment programme. Dr Janet Palmer always makes a point of asking the sex offenders questions like how do you feel that the programme went and what are you hoping to get out of the programme? All of the prisoners were in the prison for a reason. One was a serial rapist, there were some convicted of statutory rape and sexually motivated murders. One man who was a paedophile. The prison al ...more
H.A. Leuschel
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most powerful mystery thrillers I've read for a long time. Being a twin myself (the main character has a twin sister ...) and having explored the devastating consequences the exposure to highly manipulative people can have on someone in my own writing, as well as being fascinated by the power of mental delusions, this book managed to pack a punch with all those aspects combined. I finished it yesterday afternoon but am still recovering! Highly recommended. ...more
Claire Douglas
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the most atmospheric, eerie books I've ever read. I could imagine the prison, the bleak landscape, the weather, the feeling of dread that hovered over the main character, Janet as she begins her new job as a psychiatrist of Halvergate prison. But what happened to her predecessor? And why are his notes missing? I thought Janet was a really well constructed character who has demons of her own as she begins to investigate a spate of suicides at the prison. As the whispers of ...more
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
The Binding Song is a creepy, gothic book that creates a sense of foreboding from the very beginning and doesn’t let up until the final pages. Dr Janet Palmer is the new psychologist at Halvergate Prison and it is clear from her first day that there is something sinister going on in the prison, and she wants to know why.

I don’t want to say much more about the story because the author has done a great job of creating a level of tension and suspense that she keeps up until the final pages. The cha
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a prison and the main protagonist is a forensic psychologist – I need know nothing else – I’m reading this book!

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 Jan
Katherine Sunderland
Oh my goodness, what a book. I loved it. This is totally my favourite kind of novel and totally worth the wait. SJI Holliday was not wrong. It is going to be one of my highlights of 2017.

So why did I like it so much? It's set in Norfolk for a start. That's not only my favourite place in the world but also a perfect location for a novel that has a bleak, gothic atmosphere about it. And it's about a new female psychologist working in a prison. A prison in a very remote area full of incredibly unpl
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now. It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year. The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.

As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that. What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really
Rob Twinem
Dr Janet Palmer has commenced a new career as a psychologist based at HMP Halvergate in the sparsely populated and bleak Norfolk countryside. This is an institution where inmates are incarcerated due to criminal or sexual crimes and it is hoped that their period of internment will allow the authorities, and in particular the staff, time to address, and hopefully in some way cure this deviant behaviour.
Apart from the prison chaplain Steven Finch the staff at Halvergate are not very welcoming to
Paula Sealey
An outstanding debut novel, this book has everything you could want from a psychological thriller. There are chills aplenty as the menacing story, set in the violent prisoners wing of HMP Halvergate, gathers pace.

Psychologist Dr Janet Palmer is looking forward to the challenge of her new job working with sex offenders on a rehabilitation programme. There have been a number of suicides on the wing prior to her arrival, and Janet is hoping to prevent anymore. But she finds her colleagues at the pr
Rachel Bridgeman
Elodie Harper came to my attention first as the winner of a short story competition, judged by Stephen King(have I ever mentioned he is my favourite author of all time? Quite possibly done that a few times, apologies!)
The publication of 'Six Scary Stories' by the ever excellent Cemetery Dance crew was a must buy and on the basis of the story I pre-ordered 'The Binding Song'.
It is dark, in all the right ways, a progressive mystery with excellent characterisation and a spookiness that gives you c
Mary Crawford
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Janet Palmer is the new psychologist at HMS Halvergate. She is there to run a sex therapy course for both a group and the individuals within the group. I loved the premise of the story, thought the dreary descriptions of both the inside of the prison and the outside flat topography of Norfolk were well done and was immersed in the story until the supernatural started to play a part. It just didn't work for me and at the end I wasn't really sure why it was used as a technique. The vicar was a gre ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ooh this is an eerie, gothic horror. Full review to follow
Cheryl M-M
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
Janet has her work cut out for her at HMP Halvergate. A series of suicides has rocked the prison and it doesn’t seem as if they are going to stop any time soon.

Not only does she have to deal with the insidious nature of her clients crimes and their questionable characters, she also has to cope with staff members with ulterior motives. Inmates seem convinced that a ghost, a spirit or perhaps even a demon is killing fellow inmates.

The real question is whether the evil spirit is real or is it just
Ronnie Turner
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Newly promoted psychologist Janet Palmer is met with coldness and hostility on her arrival at HMP Halvergate. It’s staff refuse to talk about her elusive predecessor who left with the wind in his tails and the prisoners whisper of a ghostly white lady who stalks the halls, persecuting them for their horrendous crimes, driving them to commit suicide. As Janet settles into her grim new landscape, she discovers that despite several years as its psychologist, John Helkin has left barely any traces o ...more
Jacob Collins
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All of my reviews can be found at: https://hookedfrompageoneblog.wordpre...

The Binding Song is an outstanding, atmospheric novel from debut novelist Elodie Harper. It is a novel that will give you genuine chills as it takes you into the heart of an isolated prison in Norfolk. If you’re lucky you’ll get to leave.

Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at Halvergate, an isolated Prison in Norfolk. Janet works with some of the most dangerous criminals. She tries to help them understand their a
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
If there was ever a book whose synopsis made me want to read it, it was this one! The Binding Song is a debut novel and fills me with hopes for this author's future.

Based in HMP Halvergate, our new physiologist takes on her first full time position after her predecessor left abruptly.
Suicides seem rife within the walls of this prison and bolstered by the new challenge, Janet begins her research with Ferver, only to keep hitting blank walls and a deep amount of secrecy.
With no help from collea
Ruth P
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a book that was probably better suited to a stormy October ( Halloween) night by a log fire but as it was I read it whilst sleepless in the heatwave.Although it didn't set my world on fire it was nevertheless an enjoyable,easy read that evoked strong images of a wild,flat Norfolk and a prison full of the biggest bunch of unpleasant nutters I have ever come across.
A bit spooky,a bit crazy but it entertained.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
No idea why I persevered with this. The ending was a cop out, and nothing much happened at all throughout.
Jayne Catherine pinkett
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good psychological thriller which is very creepy. Although I worked out the twist it was still an excellent read which at times was a bit scary!!!
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! This was a slow starter but once it got going it was wam bam thank you mam! Harper’s writing is very much in the here and now, but cleverly weaves an otherness that you don’t know whether to believe in or not. By the end I still couldn’t fathom what was real, and all the better for it. Read if you dare! Excellent!
This was a creepy and disturbing thriller with a supernatural flavour. The gothic setting of the prison and Janet's sad little house makes for a perfectly atmospheric read. I just wish she would've gotten rid of her terrible boyfriend when she had the chance. ...more
Elite Group
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very atmospheric thriller

Dr Janet Palmer has just taken up a new position as the lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate Prison in a remote area of Norfolk. She comes to the job full of excitement about a new challenge. There has been a string of suicides with no apparent motive; her predecessor has disappeared along with his notes on her current prisoners; her colleagues are all unfriendly and unhelpful and there are rumours of a ghostly female figure pursuing the inmates to punish them for thei
The writing is a bit hit and miss for me; it's good and gave a creepy vibe, but there's some really fluffy writing (e.g. massive grey clouds spread overhead like a blanket hung on a low ceiling) which didn't so much as set the scene, as it did just elicit major eye rolls. The story itself is great for anyone interested in the psychology of sex offenders, but it's possible that the psychology angle took away from the story a bit, on top of that I just didn't take to Janet as a lead character.

Jenny in Neverland
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, 2018, blog-tours
I instantly loved the sound of this book; Dr Janet Palmer has taken up a new position at Halvergate Prison as their head psychologist but even upon her first day, she notices that things aren’t quite right. First of all, her predecessor, Dr John Helkin, left suddenly, leaving no notes or information about any of the prisoners he worked with and the prison has been experiencing a string of suicides and nobody knows why. As Janet gets further and further into her position, she’s determined to find ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.5 stars)

Dr Janet Palmer is the new psychologist at HMP Halvergate prison. Leaving her London home and boyfriend behind, Janet wonders if her decision to move to Norfolk is right but she loves her job and is willing to give it a try. However, both the staff and the inmates pose a challenge to her. The former seems reserved and don't share much of the information with her while the latter, as most sex offenders inmates are, are either smirking behind her back or don't take her seriously. The wo
Rachel Bridgeman
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018

Elodie Harper came to my attention first as the winner of a short story competition, judged by Stephen King(have I ever mentioned he is my favourite author of all time? Quite possibly done that a few times, apologies!)
The publication of ‘Six Scary Stories’ by the ever excellent Cemetery Dance crew was a must buy and on the basis of the story I pre-ordered ‘The Binding Song’.
It is dark, in all the right ways, a progressive mystery with excellent characterisation and a spookiness that gives you ch
Shell Senseless
[Originally posted at]
My thoughts...

As soon as I saw the protagonist was a psychologist I was interested! The bleak atmosphere is well set as Janet starts her new job and finds everyone unwelcoming- I could really empathise with her.

It didn't take too long for me to work out where the book was going and there was really one main twist. Although there was a tense build up it was also kind of slow- personally I enjoyed reading about Janet's job as prison p
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Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize winning short story writer.
Her story 'Wild Swimming' won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News.

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