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Review: Chime, Franny Billingsley

chimeEverything bad that’s happened in Briony Larkin’s life is all her fault, for one simple fact; she is a witch. It is she who burned down the library, who caused illness in her family, who must then protect her sister Rose from all harm. As such, she is no longer going to the swamp, where she might ask the fae to do harm for her by accident, and instead stays close by the parsonage to protect her sister and keep to the right path. But when a young man, Eldric, comes to live with them, and worms his way into her family, Briony’s life and assumptions are turned upside down.

I loved this book. I read several excellent reviews from a number of other trusted bloggers, enough to make me buy it, but I didn’t actually understand how much I’d love it until I began reading it. Billingsley uses one of my very favourite devices, the unreliable narrator whose worldview changes radically as he or she realises some important truths, and combines that with a delightful mix of fantasy, romance, and elegant writing to make a truly outstanding novel.

The book starts out slightly confusing. Briony is a narrator that lives very much inside her own head, and as a result the story is told fractiously; it takes a while for us to work out exactly what she is talking about, why she feels threatened by Eldric and his family, and about Rose’s peculiar behaviour. But once hooked, I couldn’t stop reading, and devoured the entire book in a single evening. I loved the atmosphere, which was very much like England a hundred years ago and with more magic. The swamp reminded me of the way the fens were in Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain, although the books themselves are wildly different; a magical and mysterious place that no longer exists in the modern world, long past drained to produce more land for houses, farms, and monetary gain in general.

It was the relationships and how they grew that really affected me, though; I absolutely adored Eldric and the way he bonded with each of the characters, especially Briony and Rose. He really causes her to question all of the assumptions she’s built up over the years. Backing him up is Rose, who seems to understand more about everything that’s happened despite her own peculiarities. I loved how Eldric and Briony so clearly made one another happy, too, and the completely organic way their relationship grew over the course of the narrative. It’s completely in contrast to the other young male character, Cecil, who attempts to bully Briony into marrying him.

In fact, just talking about Chime makes me want to read it again, which for me is a sure sign of an incredible read. It immediately secured its place on my new “to be re-read” shelves, and as such I completely recommend you make space for it on yours, too.

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9 comments to Review: Chime, Franny Billingsley

  • yay, so glad you loved this too. I loved the narrative voice and the relationships as well. And you’ve definitely made me want to read it again!

  • Sounds great, will be adding this to my wishlist :-)

  • It was great, huh? Glad to see you enjoyed it so much!

  • I do love an unreliable narrator but the paranormal aspect isn’t my favorite. I’ll have to think about this one.

  • Just reading your review makes me want to read this book again! I loved it so much. It is definitely one that I want in my permanent library. And as a writer, I found Franny Billingsley’s style to be just amazing.

  • I bought this one many months ago on my Kindle, and have neglected to read it so far. Your review has me wanting to speed through my current read to get to this one all the faster. Wonderful review today! I am eager with anticipation to try this book now!

  • Don’t you love it when you finish a book and immediately want to reread it? I’ve given in, though–maybe I should.

  • Wow, I admit I had no interest in this based on the cover and the title, but your review definitely changed my mind- I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one!

  • This is a lovely review! I completely agree with all your points, especially about the book being a bit confusing in the beginning. Oh, and I simply adore Eldric; he reminded me a bit of Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables. I actually heard the audio book by Susan Duerden on the recommendation of The BookSmugglers. If you liked the book, you’ll like the audio even better. Duerden is a great narrator, with that whimsical, half-sad, half-happy voice that Briony must have.