Chime Hardcover – Mar 17 2011
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"Part mystery, part fantasy, this beautifully-written page turner explores guilt, mercy, and love." -Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of Tithe and Ironside
About the Author
Franny Billingsley is the award-winning author of four books, including The Folk Keeper--winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction--and Chime, which received six starred reviews and was a National Book Award finalist. A graduate of Tufts University and the Boston University School of Law, Franny left the practice of law to write full-time and hasn't yet looked back.
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Top Customer Reviews
I really liked the story itself though. I was very intrigued by the "swamp" and the creatures that lived there. It's too bad that we didn't get to learn more about them. I really liked Eldric he is very charming and kind of reminds me of Johnny Deep in Finding Neverland. I love Eldric and Briony's relationship they act like they are the best of friends and have a wonderful brother/sister relationship even though they aren't brother/sister.
Overall, I felt that the story was good but the writing was hard to understand. If you like stories about witches this one is for you.
3.8 out of 5
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Following the sudden death of her beloved stepmother, Briony and her mentally disturbed sister, Rose, find themselves under the scrutiny of the villagers in the Swampsea. But Briony has a secret. She is a witch, forbidden to go into the swamps she loves so much.
When young Eldric moves into her home, she finds herself with a new friend and secret keeper. Can Briony keep her powers at bay, or will they lead to her demise?
Franny Billingsley provides readers with an enchanting story of a young witch struggling to come to terms with her powers. While at times the plot line can be confusing, fans of paranormal and fantasy novels will consider CHIME a treasure.
Reviewed by: Monica Sheffo
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Briony just broke my heart. She would deny herself many things because she believed she wasn't capable of loving anyone or bad things will happen. I really wanted her to realize she wasn't a bad person and even though she said she was jealous and didn't like her sister it was obvious how much she truly cared about Rosy. I loved Briony's character even though she didn't like herself all too well.
Rosy's character is one that will forever be young at heart. She was an interesting character. Even though she was perceived to not have an understanding of things Rosy turned out to be the most aware of what was around her than everyone else did. There were many secrets she kept to herself which I was curious to find out what they could possibly be.
The relationship with Briony and Eldric was really sweet. Eldric was someone Briony needed in her life in order to overcome all of the negative feelings she had for herself.
The ending was such a wonderful surprise. For some reason I didn't see it coming even though it was pretty much hinted at throughout the whole book.
The writing was so beautiful with a somewhat classic fairy tale feel to it, which I absolutely adored! I would highly recommend reading Chime to those who love magic, fantasy, mystery, romance, and oh so brilliant, wonderful, amazing, lovable characters.
This book was absolutely gorgeous. Every word was an indulgence along the same lines as chocolate. And just like chocolate I wanted to savor it and gobble it up at the same time.
I knew from the first page that Chime was something special. Something completely different than other books I have read and that knowledge only intensified as I continued to read. The writing was completely incredible. I was a little awestruck. Franny Billingsley has a amazing gift and I hope that she continues to share it for a long time to come.
Chime is about the very wicked girl named Briony. She's so wicked because she's an Old One, a witch. This is a secret she has kept for years. Briony hates herself. She doesn't love anyone. Shes incapable of crying, and she tells you these things countless times, but you as the reader can see all the things that Briony can't. You will probably figure out the truth about her long before she does, but watching the story unravel and the puzzle pieces fit together is the beautiful thing about this book.
Briony tells you her story and her recount of the events is honest and witty. Her relationship and romance with Eldric was well developed.The banter between the two of them was fantastically done. It had me smiling many times. Rose, Briony's twin sister played a very big role in the story and I though she was a great addition to the already wonderful cast of characters.
The world in which Chime takes place is perfectly created. I saw no flaws in it whatsoever. The Swapsea and the Old Ones were unique. I won't say that I have read lots of Fantasy, but I will say I have read my fair share and the world in Chime is one of my all time favorites. It left me dying for more!
I'm going to stop now because I could probably continue gushing for a long time to come. I just want to say that you must read this book! I hope you love it half as much as I did. (That would still be a lot!) I will definitely be reading Billingsley's past books and devouring anything that she writes in the future.
The magic in this book is also fascinating, as is the setting (near a swamp). The whole idea of witches turning to dust once they've been hanged and and magical creatures living in the swamp was amazing.
The only quibble I have with the book is the nebulous plot. I don't think it's as developed as it could be. In fact, I think the book would be much better if it were tightened considerably. It felt too much like the characters (wonderful though they were) wandering around bumping into things. (Briony goes somewhere. She talks to Eldric. She has internal monologues. She decides to do something. She does it. She has internal monologues. She talks to Eldric. She talks to Rose. She finds all sorts of reasons why she can't act for at least a week, which then means that she will do more talking to Eldric and Rose, etc...) It wasn't that there wasn't a plot, it was that it wasn't as tight as it could be, so all the little scenes of her walking and talking and thinking lacked focus. Part of this had to do with the style of writing - lots and lots of dialogue and internal thoughts, very, very little on the setting or actions. I liked Briony's voice a lot, and I liked the wittiness of her thoughts, but the lack of concrete description of the setting made the book, for me, lack an anchor. You get a line here and there about the peeling wall paper, and the golden rye fields, and the blue and white painted sheets in the garden party, like little minnows of description that flash by before you can catch hold of them. In the book Briony talks about the hollow bird bones of her hand, and I feel that image aptly describes the book itself. It was all voice, without the solidity of plot to focus and bolster it except with a few feather light touches.
What surprises and twists there were I found predictable. I figured them out very early on. However, the joy in this case is not in being surprised, but in watching Briony discover what you already know.
I hope my review does not seem wholly negative. The problem is that there's only so much praise you can give before you start to babble, or give things away. It's easier to come up with concrete reasons of what you didn't like than what you liked. You should read this book. It's worth it. Getting to know Briony, and Eldric, and Rose, is worth it. What you ultimately should be considering is whether you should buy this or check this out from the library. If you are unsure, check this out from the library. Spending more time in a library is never, ever a bad thing.
Some books are meant to be appreciated as much as they are to be enjoyed. There aren't many YA books of literary quality. Of the books I've read in the past year, only Jellicoe Road; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; and Revolution come to mind. Literary books take work to read. You can't just be immersed in the plot. You have to think while you're reading to absorb the careful meaning the author places in the prose. While more difficult, this can transform a book from interesting to extraordinary. I enjoyed Chime once I got used to it, but it never made that leap from a well-written book to something that made an indelible mark in my mind like Jellicoe Road and Revolution.
Briony, our narrator, is one of the most miserable characters you'll find. Convinced that she's an evil witch who hurts everyone around her, she despises herself. She holds everyone back, so she can't hurt them. Eldric, the new lion-boy, refuses to stay away. He brings light into her life and that scares her. Pretty soon, she has to decide not only if she'll open herself to Eldric, but if she's willing to brave the witch-hating townspeople to save her village and sister from the evil swamp spirits.
The plot sounds crazy, but it Briony's world really is fascinating. There's just a hint of fantasy and the rest reads like a historical novel. It took me a long time to understand what was going on, but once I did, the plot flowed pretty smoothly.
The characters and writing is much more important than the plot for Chime. The prose is beautiful. The author clearly put great thought into every sentence she wrote. It reads like poetry. Chime is basically written in a stream of consciousness mode. The book shows every thought that's going through Briony's head. Like anyone else, Briony's thoughts often veer into tangents that seemingly have nothing to do with the current situation, but are somehow linked in her mind. It makes the book confusing and choppy, but so insightful.
Briony is a fascinating character. Her self-hatred colors all her thoughts, making her an unreliable narrator. At the same time, she carefully observes life around her. Her comments about her father, deceased stepmother, sister, the village-people, Eldric, and even about nature were very different than the way most people think. It was like putting on a pair of glasses with too high of a prescription. Everything you see is sharpened yet distorted. I also loved her sister Rose. Rose is mentally disabled in some way. Despite her limitations or perhaps because of them, she sees people clearly. Her simple statements were often more insightful and accurate than Briony's.
Chime is a beautiful book with well-developed characters, a complex plot, and incredible prose. It is one of those books that can be read over and over just to contemplate the wording. While I appreciated the literary quality, Chime just never made the leap from being appreciated to being loved.
Rating: 3.5 / 5