“Chime” by Franny Billingsley is a book I completely devoured.
Briony Larkin is a witch and must be hanged. Or so she says. She knows her witchiness has caused irrevocable harm to the members of her family and Briony hates herself.
She has an easy time hating herself until Eldric comes to stay. Eldric with his fidgety ways seems to make Briony forget to hate herself. Which is dangerous.
The Boggy Mun (the spirit of the Swamp) has given the town’s children the Swamp Cough and it’s up to Briony to save everyone even if it means being found out and hanged as the witch she knows she is.
”Chime” swept me away. I started with the audiobook and then realized I was making excuses to sit in my car… alone… in my driveway, so I checked out the bound book to keep the neighbors from talking too much.
The mystery of what Briony actually is (because we know from the get-go that she’s not a witch) and why she hates herself is compelling as are the brief mysteries inter-woven within this main plot. The characters are drawn well enough to make your heart swell or cringe at their appearance. And the magic of the Swampsea with its Old Ones is tingly and wonderful.
Mesh all of those elements with writing that is fresh and strange and haunting and you get something that is, simply put, beautiful. If you’re an audiobook listener, you can’t get much better than the performance of Susan Duerden. I may check it out again just to hear her narrate, but I’ll probably wait until we’re going on a road trip.