Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Chime

Chime - Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Two months and three days. That's how long it's been since Stepmother died and Briony will not let herself forget it, just like Briony won't let herself forget that she's a witch and that her powers harmed both Stepmother and her twin sister Rose. Her plans once involved going elsewhere for school, but now she has resigned herself to staying in the Swampsea, caring for her younger sister, and pretending she can't hear the Old Ones begging her to write stories of them again. Then Eldric arrives and Briony finds herself getting close to him. But she can't do that--wicked witches such as herself can't have friends, right? She's done too much wrong to be allowed a friend. Meanwhile, the Boggy Mun is unhappy about the swamp being drained and unless Briony can do something about it, Rose will die of the dreaded swamp cough.Due to how the blurb talks an awful lot about Eldric, I almost didn't buy Chime. Blurbs that concentrate on the romantic interest usually don't result in good books for me, but then I saw this review of Chime by the Book Smugglers. Their feelings about a book and my feelings on the same book match up seven or eight times out of ten (and I think they're intelligent in general), so I went for it and bought my own copy (by the way, I love having a print copy because it looks so pretty and feels so pretty and ignore this entire aside, please). I'm pretty glad I did because this was a good book, though not one everyone will love.Briony was a difficult character to figure out, but I liked her nonetheless. She contradicted herself and had self-hatred issues, but her sense of humor was so much fun ("Poor Petey. I'd like to say I could almost feel a tender spot for poor Petey, but the truth is I'd rather feel at the tender spot on his head and give it a poke." (Chime, p. 112)) and she's very to-the-point, though I didn't believe half of what she said. She was unreliable as a narrator, but she also made for an interesting, fantastic narrator. By the end of the book, I kind of wanted to give her a hug for all she'd put herself through and been through.I developed soft spots for some of the supporting characters, including romantic interest Eldric and twin sister Rose, and the romance between Briony and Eldric made me go "awwwww." Kind of. The big romantic declarations don't happen until the very end of the book, but the development leading up to it made their declarations, however cheesy the might be, made them completely believable. Can't we have more romance like this, where they start out as friends, get closer, and it becomes more? I'm ready to throw out the old insta-love trope. Buy more books like this so they end up on bestseller lists and send publishers a message. They'll probably misinterpret it, but it's worth a shot, right?Chime was a slow-moving book, driven by the characters most of the time. If you aren't completely interested in where these characters are going, this will be a slow read, but people invested in Briony will most likely see it fly by so that they can find out what's going on with her and why she is the way she is. Hints are carefully worked into the book as to what is going on, just sitting on the ground so the reader can pick them up and put the puzzle together, but I didn't get the full picture until it was all revealed at the very end. It felt like it was so obvious and why didn't I figure this out before, but it was all very subtle. I had a feeling something was going on and raised questions to myself about it, but I didn't finish connecting the dots. Now I wish I could read it over again like I'd never read it before and pay more attention and see if I could figure it out on my own.The style of prose was... unusual. You don't see YA novels written the same way every day. Briony's voice and humor was enjoyable, but it took me some time to adjust to it. While reading, the prose would occasionally lose me and my attention would wander, which is why it took me longer than normal to read this book. (Some of it also had to do with another book scrambling my brain, but that's not the point.) I took a sample from the book, an entire page, so you could see for yourself what it's like and make your own decision on it:"Life and stories are alike in one way: They are full of hollows. The king and queen have no children: They have a child hollow. The girl has a wicked stepmother: She has a mother hollow.In a story, a baby comes along to fill the child hollow. But in life, the hollows continue empty. One sister continues lonely and unloved; the other coughs behind the door. I say in the hall. I waited. Father returned from the Alehouse. I waited. He say before the fire in the parlor. I waited."Sometimes, of course, the sister's the wicked one, not the stepmother."I'd lived in a hollow all the last year. A Fitz Hollow, a Brownie hollow, a Stepmother hollow. When you live in a hollow, your life is small. It's all paper snips, and dust, and cold wax drippings, and the scab on leftover gravy."I waited. Father went to bed. No more waiting. Time to go, little witch. Your sister has the swamp cough."Wind had replaced the rain. It slammed sticks and scum and willow peels against the far bank, it slammed me across the bridge. The fishermen have a name for the northeast wind. Don't tell Father I know it. They call her the Bitch."The Bitch thwacked the Flats with the side of her hand. She thwacked the breath from my lungs."The bitch could easily push a seven-year-old girl from a swing. Was it the Bitch I'd called that day? Was it the Bitch who'd smacked Rose to the ground?"Probably."If Briony Larkin, age seven, wanted to call up a wind, she'd have called up the most powerful wind she could. She might not have been quite aware of what she was doing, but I know enough about the younger Briony to know that when she did a thing, she did it thoroughly." (Chime, p. 160-161)If you think you'll be able to adjust to that style of prose and this seems like a book that positively screams your name, go for it. Chime was enjoyable, but I see exactly where it could lose other readers and not be a good book for them.