AUTHOR: Franny Billingsley
LENGTH: 368 pages
SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.
REVIEW: I LOVED this book. I was wary going into the read because I had heard such varying opinions on the book. And the more I’ve read about the book, the more I agree with Hannahlily Smith (fellow YA obsessive and Twitter-friend): it is a divisive book. From what I have deduced, one either loves this book or hates it. The writing style is unique and reminds me so much of Markus Zusak’s writing in The Book Thief. There were so many times that I went back to read a passage because of phrasing or description that I just thought, “Wow! I would have never thought to phrase it that way but it is so RIGHT ON.”
I loved Briony, too. She is not a typical heroine and because she is the narrator, there is a serious distrustful-narrator vibe going throughout the book. In addition, the connection between Edric and Briony is immediately felt but Billingsley keeps readers guessing almost until the end of the book: is it romantic or more platonic/protective? There were even times when I questioned whether the story was taking place in an alternate reality, so engrossing was the setting and plot development. Rose was a delightful surprise in the end of the book and I felt the ending was done well. No tidy bow but a satisfying ending nonetheless.
I would recommend this to fans of Zusak’s The Book Thief and to anyone who enjoys a moderately fantastical period tale of mystery with splashes of romance and darkness. All in all, Chime was a delightfully unsettling read.