Chime by Franny Billingsley
Hardcover: 361 pages
Published March 17, 2011 by Dial
Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.
Chime was a really good book with lots of mystery, wonderful old-fashioned-y-ness, and magic.
The thing I loved most about this book was the writing. It was dark and deep and sophisticated and tart. (Yes, I described something as being "tart" and no, I do not mean my favorite dessert.) I also really loved the characters; Briony especially. Everyone was just so messed up in their own way that I couldn't help but love everyone. Except I didn't love Cecil, he was a deranged little monkey... Rose really annoyed me and yet I loved her like she had become my own sister in a way, and I suppose that was the point. Briony was awesomely creepy and depressed and magical and tough and sarcastic. Eldric was pretty amazing, in his looks and attitude, and Mr. Larkin is just really hard to describe.
Sometimes I'm a fan of historical fiction, but other times it's too dry or the history doesn't seem very real. Chime had absolutely none of those problems. I am a ginormous fan of the late 1800s, so that was good. I am also a ginormous fan of those female characters that want nothing to do with polite society, but conform anyways because they have to.
This book is for those with a taste for historical fiction, mystery, and fantasy.