Billingsley, Franny. Chime. New York: Dial Books - Penguin Books (USA) Inc., 2011. Print.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/10284513]
I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged.Briony's life consists of two main pursuits. She's spent her whole life trying to hide the fact that she's a witch. Better to keep her neck out of the noose. And since her stepmother died -- correction, since Briony killed her stepmother -- she's been taking care of her twin sister Rose. But lately Briony's been a bit conflicted. When Rose gets the swamp cough, a disease that is slowly killing off the town's children, Briony has a choice: she can let Rose die or she can deliver a message on behalf of the creatures of the swamp in return for Rose's health, revealing her witchy self in the process.
Now, if you please.
It's not as though she really has a choice.
Chime is an interesting twist on the current paranormal fare. It's set in an unspecified past when England is in a kind of transitional phase. The Old Ones are still around, but they're being pushed back into disappearing wild places, such as the swamp that is being drained behind Briony's home. Her little town with its busy pub across from the gallows and Briony, the beautiful daughter of the town preacher who's being pursued by a handsome but dumb local guy, were comfortably recognizable. The addition of Eldric, the handsome AND charming son of a family friend, made me think I knew what I was in for. In a good way.
But I was wrong. I had no idea what a treat I was in for when I met Briony. She's smart and sarcastic and employs just the right kind of self-depreciating-but-everyone-else-is-annoying-too humor. For example:
Cecil teased me to reveal my worldly knowledge, and I found amusing ways to sidestep his questions, and on we went with this for quite a while until it occurred to me that this is what is called flirting.Underneath her slick veneer, Briony has some real self-hate. She is both a witch and a preacher's kid, after all. Her self-loathing competes pretty heavily with her self-preservation instinct as Briony tries to figure out how to appease the Old Ones in her swamp to save Rose (who not only has done nothing wrong but whose problems Briony also places on her own shoulders) and save her own neck at the same time.
It's a tedious exercise.
As if a great and fun yet complex main character/narrator weren't enough, there's Eldric who really is very charming and sweet and a worthy book crush. His interactions with Briony, especially their "fraternity," were really cute and fun, though their relationship was not without some very serious complications. Issues with Briony and Rose's father added real emotional depth to the story in ways that an emotionally and physically absent father is usually not able. And, of course, there's Rose. I prefer that you read about and fall in love with her for yourself. In short, Chime is just one good thing after another; I highly recommend it!
Book source: Philly Free Library
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