Guest Reviewer: C.J. Redwine

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C.J. Redwine is the author of Defiance, which published in August, 2012. C.J. took the time out of her own schedule to do a guest review of Chime by Franny Billingsley. You can find out more information about C.J. Redwine on her website.

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Reviewed by C.J. Redwine

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.

 

I’m not sure I can do this book justice in this review, but I’m going to try. This story is absolutely stunning. From the first word, I was totally captivated. It was like being swallowed whole by a lush, dark gothic fairy tale.
 First and foremost, I loved Briony’s voice. It’s both compelling and authentic. She felt very real to me, and I was invested in the outcome of her story. I loved the little nuances that painted a complete picture of how damaged she was by all that had happened within her family, how responsible she felt for her sister, and how love and hate twined themselves inside of her until she didn’t know the difference sometimes.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the plot. It’s full of delicous twists and turns. We start with Briony confessing to a crime and declaring that she deserves to be hanged, and then we back up to the beginning of her “crime” so we can see just how it happened. I was hooked! Some of the twists took me by surprise. Some I could see coming, but somehow that just made it worse because I wanted to reach through the pages and save the characters I loved!
The setting is a character in its own right in CHIME. Both the village and the swamp are gorgeously atmospheric and very gothic. I almost felt like I’d been pulled underwater where reality was muffled and magic was slowly unfolding all around me while I just let myself sink into this new realm.
What pulls all of this together brilliantly is the beautiful prose that made reading every word an incredible pleasure. Ms. Billingsley is a master of her craft. I plan to reread the book with a highlighter and just study how she did it. I strongly recommend this book to readers who love gothic stories, fairy tales that are dark and a little gritty, and lush prose.
Pages: 361
Publication Date: March 17th, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Rating: [rating: 5]
Teaser Quote: “If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?”