3 June 2012
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: April 2011
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
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. (Goodreads)
I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. As I started reading I thought it might be set somewhere between 1400-1700s due to the stigma about being accused a witch, but the more I read the more I realised it was set at a much later time - around late 1800s to early 1900s. This disorientation made me feel a little unsettled to start, and in addition to this I found the writing style a struggle to get used to only because it is different to most reads. If I rated the book based on the first few chapters, I would probably put it very low. But reading it did get easier and I'm glad I persevered to read the whole book because I really started to like it.
Chime certainly isn't your generic YA book and Briony is by no means your run of the mill heroine. She is self-loathing and self-effacing. She openly admits to herself that she is a witch and believes she is wicked. She berates herself and feels she deserves to be punished for her wrong doings. Unlike other girls of her age and in her village, she's honest, witty and she has many a secret. She is also desperately protective of her sister, Rose who is eccentric and very special in her own way. Her quirks, such as creating little drawings full of meaning, are sweet and although she might not appear it she is very clever and perceptive. At first I mistook Rose for a spoilt and selfish girl who screamed to get her own way, but then I realised what her real character is like and I though she was very endearing.
Likewise, Eldric was a real sweetheart. He could read Briony and Rose and came to understand them and protect them. His outgoing and easy nature made him very likeable, but he also inspired a lot of change at Swampsea.
I as I got further into the book, I started enjoyed it more and more and found the plot intriguing. The blend of magic and hidden truths combined to make a compelling story. The way it was written was also very unique. Although it was written from Briony's first perspective, she often changed to third person to refer to herself. Briony's own thoughts and internal monologues were also often poetic, and oddly beautiful.
I can only describe Chime as quirky, eccentric, yet beautifully crafted.