By: Franny Billingsley
Published by: Dial
Publication date: March 17, 2011
YA, 368 pages
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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.Oh my gosh, I loved this one! Chime is completely unlike anything out there in the realm of YA. It's a fairytale, it's lush, it's surreal and otherwordly. I'll admit, it took me a couple of chapters to fall into the rhythm of Chime as it has its own cadence but once I did I was completely lost to Franny Billingsley's unique voice.
I thought I had read about every paranormal element out there, but Chime gives us what I can only describe as swamp fae, think localized folklore come to life. Never once did I feel I knew what to expect and I can't tell you how refreshing that was! Nothing followed formula, not the setting, not the characters, not the romance.
Briony (captured perfectly by the cover model) is tormented. Tragedy and mysterious illness have consistently befallen her family and due to her stepmother's revelations, she is convinced she is the cause. She is a witch and her emotions have manifested disaster. What an impossibly heavy burden for her to bear.
As a witch, she not only believes she is incapable of love, she also feels she doesn't have the right to express sadness, for witches don't cry. But she and Eldric become friends and I couldn't help but wonder if Briony would eventually feel the power of love and whether love would win out over evil. This is a fairytale but there are no signposts along the road guaranteeing a happy ending.
Colorful characters abound...young Tiddy Rex, Mad Tom, Cecil ~ the boy who would have her hand and Eldric, the boy who would awaken feelings she didn't think a witch could experience.
There are mysteries galore and I was never quite sure while reading what was real and what was not...though all is explained fully and satisfactorily with deeply buried secrets revealed in Chime's climax.
Eerily atmospheric and lyrical, I would recommend Chime to anyone seeking something truly original and transporting!