Reading level: Young Adult
Size: 368 pages
Release Date: March 17, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
I read Billingsley’s book The Folk Keeper earlier this year and absolutely loved it. So I was excited to read Chime as well. Don’t let the picture on the cover of the pretty teen girl fool you, this is not another teen paranormal book…it is more of a fairy tale/historical fantasy of sorts. I adored the quirkiness of the main character and the dark fairy tale like setting. There is also a sweet and quirky romance that will definitely capture the reader’s heart.
Briony’s stepmother convinced Briony that Briony herself was the cause of everything bad that ever happened to Briony’s family. When Briony’s stepmother passes away Briony is left living a half-life. She constantly feels guilty and lives in a state of grief while taking care of her mentally challenged sister named Rose. Briony used to take comfort in the mysteries of the Swamp that is next to her village but she avoids it now because of the harm she believes she does her family when she is in the swamp. Then Eldric comes to town and he accepts Briony for who she is, he awakens in her the wolfgirl who used to love to tramp through the magical swamps. As more and more of the village gets sick with the swamp cough; Briony finds she may have to embrace her witchy nature and make a pact with the Old Ones to save her village; even if it costs her her life and her love for Eldric.
Briony is a very very interesting character. She is constantly loathing herself and what she perceives to be her actions; but she never comes across as annoying. Rather she comes across as witty, sarcastic, and somewhat immune to the emotions of those around her. Some of the conversations between her and Eldric had me laughing out loud; they were just so funny, imaginative, heartfelt, and witty.
Eldric was another absolutely charming character. He is so funny, so clever, and so earnest to accept Briony with all her quirkiness and craziness. Every scene Eldric is in he brings happiness, fun, and joy to those around him. Eldric himself is happy to embrace his differences and revel in the strangeness of the swamp and in the magicalness he sees in Briony.
Briony takes on a huge responsibility; she thinks she is responsible for all of the bad that happened to her family. As such she feels it is her burden to deal with her sister Rose; Rose is a bit touched in the head. Rose is a wonderful character; who although a bit different, is just as intelligent and cunning as the rest of the group.
I loved the mythological feel that the Old Ones have. I loved how the prescence of the Old Onces was woven into the enviromnet of the dreary, dangerous, yet beautiful swamp. Billingsley’s descriptions make it easy to picture the beautiful and haunting surroundings. The writing is beautiful, witty, and intelligent if a bit scattered at the times. Briony can be easily distracted by her surroundings and it makes the story a bit slower at parts. I really enjoyed the diversions though because, for me, it just added to the quirkiness of the book and the depth of Briony’s character.
The ending of the book was fantastic and surprising. Looking back I see that what happened was hinted at throughout. Still I enjoyed the twist at the end and was in tears by the end of the book. Briony, Eldric, and Rose are wonderful characters and it was heartbreaking to see what they had to go to through in this story.
Overall an absolutely wonderful book. I loved the writing style, it was quirky and beautiful. I loved the characters; they were intelligent, witty, imaginative, heartfelt, and an absolute joy to read about. I loved the way the mythology of the swamp was tied in with the Old Ones, magic, witches and the Chime Child. The romance between Briony and Eldric has got to be one of my favorites so far this year. Both of them are so different but so the same and they do such a wonderful job of loving each other for who they are, yet there is a lot of fun and adventure in their relationship as well. If you are a fan of dark fairy tales or historical fantasies give this book a try; I absolutely loved it. If you read this book and loved it don’t forget to check out The Folk Keeper too.