Chime by Franny Billingsley

If Tender Morsels had a love child with Madapple, and My Sweet Audrina was the midwife, it might turn out looking like Franny Billingsley’s crazy good new fantasy, CHIME. It’s sometime in the nineteen aughts, and seventeen-year-old Briony, daughter of a rural clergyman, is convinced she’s a witch. How does she know? Well, there’s the little matter of the time she called up a wind to dump her twin sister Rose out of a swing when they were little, resulting in Rose’s peculiar behavior ever since. Then there was the afternoon she got mad at Stepmother, and spirited up a water being that nearly drowned her when it flooded the parsonage and ruined all the books in the library. And if that’s not enough, consider the fact that she can talk to all the brownies, sprites and fairies that only she can see in the swamp behind her home, and you’ve got a bona fide broom rider on your hands. Briony knows she’s nothing but bad news, and hopes that by punishing herself by staying away from the swamp she can avoid being found out. Witches are still hanged in her neck of the woods, and Briony prays to never be looked at twice by the Chime Child, a village woman born at the stroke of midnight who uses her gift of second sight to identify potential spell-casters. Then dashing Eldric comes to town, a college drop-out with a silver tongue who falls hard for Briony and refuses to let her go on tormenting herself. He starts asking questions, and soon Briony begins to realize that everything she thought to be true about herself and her family may be a colossal lie. But if she’s not a witch, then what is she? And what is the secret that the swamp spirits and Eldric have been trying to tell her that she refuses to believe? A magical amalgamation of fantasy, religion, turn of the century technology, horror and hot romance, this at times claustrophobic first person narration of a girl trying to find out who she is in a world turned upside down by secrets and lies is absolutely spellbinding. Billingsley uses the symbols of Briony’s changing world to make subtle statements about the strict societal roles of men and women, the questionable advantages of technological progress, and the loss civilization suffers when we begin to forget our myths and legends. But don’t expect a fast paced adventure–secrets are revealed slowly here, layer by layer in luscious prose that will make you pause on every page. Delectable!

7 thoughts on “Chime by Franny Billingsley

  1. This book looks awesome! I love books about magic, and historical fiction, so the two of them put together should be a really good novel.

  2. This is a beautifully written book, pure Franny Billingsley. My granddaughter and I read “The Folk Keeper” eight years ago, and have been waiting on this book ever since. I read it in one long sitting and have passed it along to Elizabeth.

  3. I need to know. I just simply couldn’t finish this book, but its bothering me:

    How did Stepmother die?

    Is Briony really a witch, or the “new” Chime Child? Does Eldric know this?

    What caused the fire in their library?

    Please. Spoilers.

  4. This novel sounds fantastic. The cover ROCKS!! Can’t wait to read it. 😉


    Sherry Soule Official Website

    Author of the Spellbound Series

  5. Sorry, in my last post I tried to leave a big space after the spoiler heading to hide the revelations a little, but it didn’t format that way after I submitted it.

    And I forgot to include my original comment, which is that I agree it reminds me a lot of Madapple.

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