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Chime by Franny Billingsley


For as long as Briony can remember, her stepmother has insisted, "We must never tell your father." They must never tell him that Briony caused the accidents that hurt stepmother's back and left Briony's twin, Rose, mentally impaired. They must never tell him that Briony can hear the voices of the Old Ones. They must never tell him that Briony is a witch. But now stepmother is dead and there is no one that Briony can talk to about the mystery that is her life. Stepmother has convinced Briony she must never go to the swamp, the one place she truly feels alive and at home. She must spend the rest of her life caring for Rose and hiding her witchery. But then Eldric arrives with his golden mane of hair and his "curling lion's smile" and despite herself, Briony begins wishing for more from life. "How could I bear it, Eldric living with us, this non-child, this boy-man? I'd have to keep on my Briony mask... I'd have to keep my tongue sharp and amusing. Already I was exhausted." With Eldric's help, Briony begins to investigate some of the strange happenings in Swampsea. What is causing the fever that is killing the town's children? Did stepmother really kill herself? Why are so many of Briony's memories jumbled and confused?

Chime is a thoroughly original story. Set in turn of the century England, the author balances the advent of cars, Darwin and Freud with witches and other mythical creatures to create a whole new, wonderfully atmospheric reality. The lovely, unusual prose is easy to get lost in and the romance is beautifully written. But it is the character of Briony that is the author's greatest accomplishment. Sad, funny, passionate, earthy, clever, with a new fresh voice, Briony is not a character who will be easily forgotten.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View

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