Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
Release date: April 4th 2011.
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen
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.
I think when it comes to Franny Billingsley’s book Chime I will be in the minority in that I had a really difficult time reading this one. Most reviews’ refer to the author’s unique use of language as a positive, yet I felt that ultimately the actual story became lost and unattainable, buried under a mountain of words that did little to enhance the movement of the action.
Seventeen-year-old Briony has a difficult life. Her beloved stepmother was recently poisoned to death, although rumor has it that she committed suicide. Her identical twin sister Rose, who is not entirely all there, is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with and may have the fatal swamp cough. As if that is not enough, Briony herself is a witch and the cause of all her family’s pain and suffering. Being a witch usually means certain death and Briony would prefer not to be hanged if she can help it. Things look bleak for Briony until the handsome Eldric comes to live with Briony and her family. Eldric is quite the opposite of the dour Briony and soon she finds herself intrigued by the way she feels when she is around him. As a witch Briony believed that feelings were something “normal” girls had, not “witchy” girls like her. Unfortunately, Eldric’s father has been hired by the town of Swampsea to drain the swamp in order to help the town progress into the 19th century. The witches and spirits who live in the swamp are not happy and their leader, the Boggy Mun, sends out the swamp cough to take the lives of the Swampsea’s children as revenge. Only witchy Briony can stop the deaths, but in order to do so she must tell her secret and risk a date with the gallows.
Chime is a unique story in the way that it is written. Briony narrates and her voice is often caustic and filled with dry wit. The problem I had with the writing is that the narrator often spends too much time describing what she is thinking rather than what is happening in the story. I was annoyed by the way that Briony continuously referred to herself in the third person. Her thoughts were often repetitive and her ideas seemed incredibly juvenile. The character did not come across as a seventeen-year old. Briony’s twin sister Rose truly annoyed me. I found absolutely nothing endearing about her at all, and neither did Briony, who often fantasized about getting away from Rose. The manipulative and co-dependent relationship between the sisters just added another frustration to the story. For every few sentences of action the reader needs to wade through pages of inner thoughts and ramblings in order for the plot to move forward. The writing itself is beautiful and the author has obvious talent, this was just not my type of story. Anyone who enjoys classic romances, ala Jane Austen, and period pieces will probably enjoy Chime for the very reasons I disliked it.