February 6, 2013


Chime, by Franny Billingsley
Published March 17, 2011
Publisher:  Dial
Format:  Audiobook - library
Genre:  YA historic fantasy, romance

Rating:  2.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) 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, where to begin? 

Okay, first, I have to say that Billingsley has a ton of talent. Her use of the English language is so impressive. In Chime, she weaves words together so intricately and describes normal, every day objects and feelings so uniquely, it was almost like poetry. 

So, why did I come *this close* to not finishing it several times? Well, despite all the beautiful prose, most of the time, it was kind of a hot mess. 

Chime reminded me of taking a big dog for a walk. For a few minutes, you're strolling along and everything is fine. Then, Fido smells a squirrel to the left and takes off like a rocket. Halfway there, he sees a rabbit and veers violently to the right. But, after a second of that, he smells another dog and stops immediately, sticking his nose in the ground. 

The story line was so schizophrenic, I wasn't quite sure what was going on at any given moment. Scenes would start, conversations would happen, and then all of a sudden, it would be three days later and everyone was talking about something else. There were all these strange creatures with these weird names (Mucky Face? The Boggy Man?) and they were just THERE and never explained.

And, Briony - for the love of Mike - that girl was certifiably nuts. She talked to herself. And ANSWERED herself. All. The. Time. Who does that?? Crazy people, that's who! Why did Eldric love her? Usually the female leads have some outstanding redeeming qualities - strength of character, confidence, compassion. I didn't find any of these in Briony. She was cold, sometimes mean and always self-deprecating. It was exhausting. 

The ending was my favorite part. All the craziness that didn't seem to be going somewhere actually did go somewhere. A resolution was reached and most of the loose ends were tied up. That was nice. It made me glad that I stuck with it. 

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