Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Chime by Franny Billingsley

There is a brief story behind the reading of this book for me. Two people have recommended this book to me; one whom I always seek book recommendations from, and the other told me that there was a 60% chance that I would like it, and a 40% chance that I would hate it.

I think I'm about 50/50 on the like/hate charts. I'll explain why, after an AMAZON SUMMARY, "Briony has a secret. It is a secret that killed her stepmother, ruined her sister's mind, and will end her life, if anyone were to know. She has powers. Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and a great mane of tawny hair. He is as natural as the sun, and he treats her as if she is extraordinary. And everything starts to change . . . Chime is a haunting, brilliantly written novel that will stay with you--its magic, its romance, its world like none other." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So 50% of my brain likes this book. I enjoyed the world building, the characterization of the people, the muddled descriptions of major scenes, and sometimes the voice of the narrator (Briony).

The other 50% of my brain LOATHES this book. There were many times that I wanted to put down the book, label it as unreadable just to put myself out of my misery; but there were two things that stopped me. One, it was recommended to me. Two, it did not cause any headaches or a rage sleep. I think the loathing comes mostly from the pacing of the book and how it tiptoed to facts, ideas, etc a lot more slowly than I had arrived at them, accepted them, and was looking for the big picture.

I would recommend this book if you ever want to truly pick at a writer's mind; the narrator (Briony) is a writer in the tale and the mindset is right at to what a writer's can be.

I'm also going to go ahead and say that Briony comes across as an unreliable narrator. You have to finish the book to find out if she actually is or not. (Eh, eh? See what I did there? ...yeah.)

So the book opens with Briony testifying that she's very wicked. She alludes to a handful of characters that we're soon going to meet, but at the end of the first chapter (the two page long first chapter) she insists that she should be hanged. I will admit that the first chapter of the story definitely fell away from my mind as I considered the other elements that were being presented; but all in good time.

So one day a lad arrives at the town of Swampsea, a fitting name considering that the town lives on the very edge of a swamp. The lad happens to be expelled from college as he is a 'bad boy' and was expelled because he took up a bet that he could hit a building from very far away and happened to shatter some of the stain glass on the building to win a bet. He was expelled. In the hopes to educate him, his father has moved him to Swampsea for the time being and is looking to get him a tutor. This lad's name is Eldric.

I want to take a moment to talk about Eldric. Eldric can easily be described as the ideal bad-boy as he tends to do nefarious activities but activities in which no one is hurt (usually). He is very fun, brightens a room, but still has the exploring spirit. There's nothing really 'bad' about Eldric except for his disregard of propriety but at the same time he would never do something horrifically improper. Yet he still insists that he is a 'bad boy'.

Moving on.

So Briony is the twin sister of Rose (who is a little mad in the brain) and the daughter of the pastor. As such, Eldric is to stay at their home as they have the space and various other reasons.

Briony and Eldric slowly begin to spin a close friendship between them.

However, Briony is determined to hate herself because of what happened to her stepmother (the townspeople believed she killed herself by overdosing on arsenic; Briony believes she was murdered). Briony also believes herself to be a witch as she can commune with the Old Ones of the swamp.

Ah yes, the Old Ones. There are mysterious creatures that lurk in the swamp that are waiting to tempt the unprepared traveler to their untimely death; or to literally steal their hand in a horrendous way leaving the traveler stumped (literally). The Old Ones were often described as looking to be made up of bits from the swamp and sometimes malicious with their intent. The Old Ones definitely add a different flavor to the story.

Now Briony is responsible for 'mad' twin sister Rose and comes to believe that Rose has swamp cough (a cough sent by the Old Ones of the swamp in anger at the swamp being drained). Briony traverses off into the swamp to make a deal with 'Mucky Face' (think the Swamp Thing but only a giant face) only to plague Rose with the swamp cough until she can get the draining of the swamp to stop.

That's about a third of the way through the book and I'd prefer to just stop right there.

No spoiler land on this one.

I really had to push myself through a lot of the book because I had already figured out a lot of the mysteries of the book from the little clues that had been left. There were no significant 'red herrings' in the book for me, so a lot of it was a bit tedious for me to read. Especially when Briony is so determined to hate herself, to remove herself from emotion, because she does not know how to control her 'witchy' powers and does not know when they might lash out. Yet, she always had a clever and sometimes cruel tongue to hide how miserable and alone she was.

Also, if you're looking for a bizarre sort of romance novel, this would definitely fit the category. The romance portion of the story was kind of there if you looked at it from an observatory point of view.


Eh, I'm 50/50 on this book. The ending managed to pick up a bit and some things were revealed (but really at that point I was kind of reading just for the validation that I was right). I'm curious to know if this is the first in a series or if the author will do anything more with this world.

Happy reading!

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