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.
Chime is not a book that every reader is going to love. I spent the first 150 pages trying to decide whether or not I even liked Billingsley’s novel, but kept reading because I’d heard it was good and my book club was reading it. While it took me a while to adjust to Briony’s novel, Chime turned out to be a well-plotted and lyrically written novel.
The world of Chime is an intoxicating mix of enchanting and dangerous. Billingsley’s setting had an ambiance that was both historical and magical. I was never able to guess exactly what was going to happen, which was a major plus.
Briony is one of the quirkiest characters in young adult literature. She has quite a bit of internal dialogue, and it took me a while to adjust to that. I’ve since picked up the audiobook of Chime and while I’m not done yet, the story flows much more smoothly when it’s read out loud. It’s probably because the narrator is amazing and does Briony perfectly.
Finishing Chime was like polishing off a rich chocolate dessert. The writing made this story delicious, and the ending left me feeling content. I didn’t want more or less--I was happy with Chime as it stands. This is the perfect novel for readers who like their magic blended with quirkiness and poetic language.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.