Monday, April 4, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Briony knows she's a witch.  Her beloved stepmother told her so.  Whenever Briony gets angry or jealous, bad things are apt to happen.  That's why her twin sister Rose isn't quite right.  And that's why her stepmother is now dead.  Briony knows it was her fault, but she can't tell anyone, or risk hanging.  But now Rose is in danger again. The Boggy Mun has given Rose the swamp cough, and everyone who gets the swamp cough eventually dies.  The Boggy Mun is angry that the engineering men are draining the swamp, and he wants Briony to stop it.  But how can Briony stop it without confessing to being a witch?

I didn't think I was going to like this.  It started with the cover, with the generic pretty girl.  And then the description sounded like another supernatural romance.  Yawn.  Oh how wrong I was!  It was fantasy and romance and mystery and psychological thriller all in one and I loved it!

First, let us discuss the romance aspect.  It started with the new boy, Eldric, coming to town.  However, there is no falling in love at first sight and knowing they are destined to be together.  Briony, as a witch, isn't capable of loving anyone.  And she does not like boys and men in general.  She is mildly surprised when Eldric doesn't repel her, and they become friends.  Just think!  The setting up of a relationship before we're told they love each other!  How delightful.  We actually get to see them both as people, and were their ultimate attraction comes from.  I could actually understand why people liked Eldric.  He had an easy, comfortable way about him.  He set other people at ease.  He could to talk to anyone.  Yes, yes, he's also very pretty, but he actually had a developed personality too!

I enjoyed Briony's voice very much.  She narrates the whole story.  Her way of explaining things are often short and disjointed.  Sometimes it feels more like stream of consciousness.  Briony is fighting against herself.  She keeps having memories she doesn't understand.  She has to keep reminding herself that she's a witch, that she's bad, that she hurts people, that witches don't cry and don't love.  She has strong reactions to things and she doesn't know why.  We get the feeling that Briony isn't a completely reliable narrator when it comes to remembering the past.

They mystery aspect is that we don't really know what happened to Briony's stepmother, or how Briony really burned her hand, or why she refuses to write stories anymore.  The memories she has don't seem quite right.  Her sister Rose keeps trying to tell her something, but Briony doesn't understand what it is.  She thinks it's just Rose being her usual odd self.  Things finally come to a head, and Briony is put on trial as a witch and the murderer of her stepmother.  Over the course of the trial, we finally learn what really happened.


A few things didn't completely make sense to me.  In particular the timing of everything.  Briony interacted with her stepmother before she was actually her stepmother since she was 7, when Rose fell of the swing and hit her head, which Briony was told was her fault.  Then later, Briony's father married the stepmother.  Then Briony's father got sick, figures out the stepmother is a Dark Muse and stops spending time at home.  What I couldn't understand was how Briony's father couldn't figure out that the Dark Muse was feeding off his daughters, since once a Dark Muse doesn't have someone to feed off of they dry up and die, which seems to happen pretty quickly judging by the Leanne example.  But it seems like it was couple more years until the stepmother died, since they were married a total of four years.  How could he not figure out something was going on?  Especially when Briony got sick too?  That seemed very odd.

Since I was enjoying it so much though, I was totally willing to overlook those few things to buy into the story.  Totally recommended!  Get it for your library!

Chime came out March 17th.

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