Friday, April 1, 2011

[Review] Chime by Franny Billingsley

Title: Chime
Author: Franny Billingsley
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/04/11 (AU)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: For review (Publisher)
Age: 14+ mild language, violence and sexual references
Pages: 360 (HB)

My Rating:

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.
My thoughts: 

Briony Larkins is a witch, and she'd like to be hanged. Not only is it because of her that her Stepmother is now dead and her twin sister forever changed, but she can also speak to the Old Ones and other swamply spirits. She is wicked and it is only when she is around that bad things seem to happen. Then she meets Eldric. He is lion-boy, and she is wolf-girl, and in their sanctified fraternitus, brotherhood, they do decidedly wicked things together. Certainly not the proper arrangement for the daughter of a clergyman (?).

My, oh my. I had a hard time getting into this one at first. The writing style and the sequence of events seemed so muddled that I felt like giving up a couple of times. Until about 100 pages in, and from that moment-ish on, I found something special about it. And this book really is a special one. I would actually have given this a 5 if not for the painfully slow beginning. I really can't say much on that matter. I think now that I am used to the writing style it would be a lot easier to read, and therefore a much more enjoyable experience, but it cannot be dismissed how confused I was at first.


The setting was wonderfully refreshing. I loved the idea of a supposed Swampsea back in the day when industrialisation was just taking off, where there are creatures such as the Boggy Mun. Creatures that can only be seen by a select few humans, such as Briony. This new perspective of a seeming whole new world was refreshing, and Billingsley really did colour the whole book to suit this world. And for that, this book does sit as something of a fantasy-historical (hey-there’s a bit in there) fiction book.

The plot is unique and twists in a way that is unexpected and kept me guessing (almost) right up to the end.


First impressions are so important, which is why I feel the need to continue mentioning it. It has archaic accents and tones that very much so suit the style of this book. It suits it so well that it is overwhelming. It is not only that: it’s hard to explain, but maybe it is also down to pacing and how each scene toils along to the next, sometimes a bit too quickly. Again, this became less apparent and impeding as I went along. By about half-way onwards though, I admit I began to really fall for the way words were strung together, and the cleverness of many of the phrases that were written. (Check quotes for examples)


I liked most of the characters okay. I loved how headfast, clumsy, realistic that Briony was; I admit I fell for Eldric, just a little bit. He’s kind of like the boy next door-type, at least that’s what I thought of him. I’m not sure, actually. But there was a charm about him that is unmistakeable.
I'd also like to mention that it was a bit hard to remember the roles that corresponded with names.


Ultimately, satisfying. I didn't expect the twists at the end, and I like that everything was tied up indefinitely.


"It's strange how a person can have a distinct distaste for herself, but still she clutches to life.
I hate myself."

(p. 92)

But how can I know what happiness is? It's not a thought, but a feeling. If happiness were a description from a soppy novel, it might read, She felt as though she were walking on air.
      That was right: I felt as though I were walking on air. Cliches became cliches because they contained a nugget of truth.

(p. 251)


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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