FIRST SENTENCE: I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged.
17-year-old Briony Larkin is a witch and she hates herself. Her identical twin sister Rose is prone to screaming fits and has a child's mentality. Briony's mother died in childbirth, and her stepmother, who she loved, was ruled to have killed herself by arsenic poisoning. Briony is the only one who doesn't believe her stepmother committed suicide. Her father, a clergyman, doesn't speak to his children, and Briony, along with a woman named Pearl, takes care of Rose.
When a young man named Eldric comes to stay with them, Briony tries to keep herself from being his friend. She doesn't want to get jealous; jealousy is what caused her sister Rose's damage, her jealousy caused the fire that burned down their library and destroyed her books. Her jealousy caused the huge wave that came up and swallowed her stepmother, making her ill and putting her in the bed that she eventually died in. Briony carries all of the guilt for all of the bad things that have happened in her family, and she can't allow herself to feel love, even though the Old Ones keep telling her that she didn't hurt anyone.
She finds out that the Boggy Mun, angry over the draining of the swamp at Swampsea, has sent swamp cough into the village to kill the children. When Rose falls ill with the swamp cough, Briony knows that her abilities can't remain a secret any longer, even though it means hanging. She must let the village know how to cure the children, even if it means her own death.
Chime is a lyrical mystery tied up in a fantasy, with a unique writing style and dialect. It will not be for everyone, as the story seems to double over on itself at times, and what Briony and the reader thinks happened may not be at all what really happened. We meet the Old Ones, unique creatures specific to Swampsea, and the Chime Child, with one foot in the world of the Old Ones and one in the human world. The Chime Child is the one who determines at trail who is really a witch, and at the last trial, she made a mistake, and an innocent was killed.
The manner in which Briony's tale unfolds can be confusing to some, as Briony is herself confused, having been told many things that may or may not be true, and the reader may have their own suspicions that Briony doesn't share. This is a complex tale with many layers, each of which I enjoyed peeling back through Briony's narration.
QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):
Eldric wasn't handsome, not in a Greek statue kind of way, not like Cecil Trumpington, who wants to marry me. Well, Cecil actually wants to marry the idea of me. He wants a girl with ivory skin and corn-silk hair; he wants a girl with the face of an angel.
In a proper story, antagonistic sparks would fly between Eldric and me, sparks that would sweeten the inevitable kiss on page 324. But life doesn't work that way. I didn't hate Eldric, which, for me, is about as good as things get.
They'd throw stones at me too, once I was in jail. But at least I was a witch and deserved it. I wasn't so sure about Nelly. You'd think I'd recognize a fellow witch, but no: I'd find out with everybody else. If Nelly was a witch, she'd turn to dust once she was hanged. If not, we'd know we made a mistake.
Writing: 5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 4 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 4.3 out of 5 starsshow more
by Julie Smith