IGNORE THIS COVER. It is ridiculous--that choker, how embarrassing! This is a far cooler book than the cover lets on.
Franny Billingsley 's Chime is set at turn-of-the-twentieth-century England in a town called Swampsea. The main character Briony has been convinced by her stepmother of her own wickedness--she blames herself for her family's hardships and her sister Rose's compromised state of mind. Briony knows she is wicked (But she is salty and a bit sassy and secretly enjoys being terrible sometimes!). She no longer lets herself escape to the swamp, where she used to run and run and entertain the Old Ones, the spirits of the marshes, with stories. For only witches can see the Old Ones,and to be a witch is a death sentence. But Briony's story is not as it seems, and slowly, with the arrival of mischievousness Eldric and a suspicious woman, the mysteries unravel as to the causes of sickness in town, the nature of Briony's stepmother's death, and Briony's fate itself. After all, the book opens with "I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged. Now, if you please."
Chime is quirky and lyrical and has a writing style all of its own. Apparently in the book review world people either get it and like it or think its crazy-pants weird. If eccentric narrators, fairy tale retellings, TWINS, and characters of drinking age are your thing, it is excellent.
Originality: 8. Everyone is quirky. and its definitely different, but fine by me! It doesn't feel like anything else out there.
Absurdity: 2. I bought this world and these people (I particularly like the Brownie who follows Briony around and wants to be her friend) but be prepared for spirits/witches/Mucky Face, the wave who lives in the river (seriously).
Paranormal Romance: 9. I LOVE ELDRIC. He likes to fidget up little presents, has a curling lion smile, is friends will all the little kids in town, and is all around amusing.
Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 7. the amount of magic is pretty high (and mostly dangerous), but it is a normal part of the Swampsea.