BLURB: “Briony knows she is a witch. She also knows that now her beloved stepmother is dead she must look after her beautiful but complicated twin sister Rose. Then the energetic, electric, golden-haired Eldric arrives in her home town of Swampsea, and everything that Briony thinks she knows about herself and her life is turned magically, dizzyingly upside down.”
REVIEW: I haven’t read any Young Adult fantasy for a while, and this was the perfect novel to get me back into it. ‘Chime’ tells the story of Briony Larkin, a young woman who keeps herself at a distance from everyone (including the reader) because she knows herself to be a witch, and believes that she caused the accident that left her twin sister Rose with some mental complications that require her to have almost constant care. As the novel opens Briony is still grieving for her stepmother, recently dead from what Briony suspects was a murder, and struggling to cope with looking after Rose. Her life begins to change, however, when Eldric arrives in Swampsea and is taken into her home by her parson father. Although completely uninterested and unwilling to engage in romance, Briony finds herself developing a reluctant friendship with Eldric, and as their feelings for each other begin to grow the reader feels truly heartwarmed. The feelings that blossom between Briony and Eldric give the reader a sense that love is possible for everyone, even those that try to reject it or fear the pain it might cause, like Briony. However, there is a darker undercurrent to the story. Desperate to prevent Rose from worsening with the dreaded swamp cough, Briony makes deals with such creatures as Mucky Face and the ghost-children in order to delay the progression of her twin’s illness. Reluctant to use her powers of witchcraft and yet forced to do so to protect those she loves, Briony is a complex and hugely likeable character despite the fact that she is written in a sense that pushes the reader away as much as the other characters. Billingsley’s style of writing is clever and original, leaving the reader just as in the dark as Briony herself and keeps up a truly gripping pace. As things begin to grow increasingly dangerous for Briony the reader finds themselves sympathising with this girl and wanting her to be safe – a girl who, by her own admission, is wicked and sinful to the soul. To say anymore would spoil the twist that came near the end of the novel, one that I did not predict and hugely enjoyed. I would highly recommend this book.