Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CHIME by Franny Billingsley Kirkus Star

CHIME

By Franny Billingsley

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3552-1
Publisher: Dial

“I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.” From those arresting first lines to the very last word, readers will find themselves enthralled by 17-year-old Briony as she spins a tale of guilt, mystery, betrayal and, above all, love. Briony lives at the literal end of the line in the Swampsea with her developmentally delayed twin sister, Rose, and her clergyman father (her beloved Stepmother has recently died of arsenic poisoning—a suicide?). Mr. Clayborne, an engineer, who has been sent to drain the swamp so the railroad can go through, and his son, Eldric, who sports “a long, curling lion’s smile,” have just moved into the parsonage. The Boggy Mun of the swamp doesn’t care to be drained, though, and he will exact his revenge. Billingsley takes the time to develop a layered narrative adorned with linguistic filigree—she is one of the great prose stylists of the field, moving from one sparklingly unexpected image to the next and salting her story with quicksilver dialogue. She sets the tale in a gently alternate turn-of-the-20th-century England in which Mr. Darwin, Dr. Freud, witches and the Old Ones coexist. Briony, hugely likable despite her dismal self-hatred, is devilishly smart and funny, and readers will root for her with every turn of the page. Delicious. (Fantasy. 14 & up)