Thursday 30 June 2011

Reviewed by Jen: Chime by Franny Billingsley.

Product details:
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
Release date: April 4th 2011.
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
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. 


  1. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. The reviews I have read for Chime so far people either love it or hate it. Great honest review though.

  2. I can totally understand why you would have trouble with Chime. I haven't read it yet but I have read one of Franny's other books, The Folk Keeper and I know she has a very unique writing style that isn't everyone's cup of tea.

  3. Thanks for the review, I think I will probably love this one based on the reasons you didn't like it :)

  4. For some reason the synopsis did not grab me. So I passed it up. Thanks for the review. It doesn't sounds like I will like the book.

  5. I had some trouble with this one too. The language was a roadblock for me, but I did appreciate the unique story. I probably won't be picking up the author's other books either. I know my students struggled with this one too.

  6. I understand why you weren't drawn to the story because at times I felt the same. I actually loved it and I felt bad for Briony and how much self-loathing she had herself without realizing that others actually cared for her. I also liked Rose she was kind of stuck being a child at heart. It take me a while to get used to the writing though but once I got a hang of it the story became much more enjoyable for me.

  7. oh no, it sucks that you didn't enjoy it. I recently read The Folk Keeper by the same author and I had a difficult time with that one too... It was awesome but at 150 pages it took me two days to read because of the difficult language!

  8. I think the more time I spend teaching reluctant readers the more they rub off on me. Like my students I prefer books where there is lots of action and I don't have to wait for it or try to sort it out myself. Does that make me a lazy reader? Probably :-) I am currently reading my next book for review and it's a fast paced thriller!! I can't wait to share it with you all!!

  9. I love classic romances and Jane Austen is my favorite, but I think I will not enjoy this book either. Briony doesn't seem like a likable character at all.

  10. I've been tempted to read this. It's sounds like an interesting story. I like that you mention what you enjoyed about the novel and what you didn't care for. I know we read a lot of ya and it's geared toward teens, but I do like when a story appeals to adults as well. Sorry, this one was a bummer in the character department.

  11. Aw, this has to be one of the best books I've EVER read, but I totally get why some people don't like it. It's weird, weird, W.E.I.R.D., lol, but it's totally my kind of weird and I was completely enthralled by Briony's story!! (",)

  12. Great review, Jen! I know you were looking forward to reading this one, so sorry to hear it was a bit of a letdown. From the reviews I've read, and Nic has already said the same here - this is a book that people either love or hate.

    It doesn't sound like something I'd like, I have to say. :/

  13. Sorry you didn’t love this one. I’ve actually read a few reviews that weren’t positive so you aren’t the minority :) Thanks so much for your honesty!


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