Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Opening Lines: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Franny Billingsley’s Chime is a whirlwind of beautiful prose and chilling imagery, and the opening lines are no exception:

“I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.”

With these simple words, Billingsley introduces Briony, a main character who is wracked with guilt and self-hatred over things she can barely remember doing. Briony lives in Swampsea, a rural English town with a swamp full of wraiths and spirits, whom everyone in town believes in but only Briony and a select few can see. When handsome Eldric comes to town and appreciates Briony in a way no one has before, following her into the swamp, giving her boxing lessons, and taking her on outings to the pub, Briony begins to open up in a way she never thought possible. But life in Swampsea is still far from pleasant. Briony must care for her twin sister, who screams when anyone disagrees with her and makes Briony cover her ears when the bells chime twelve. And if she wants to keep the town alive, she must figure out how to keep the spirit of the bog from infecting everyone with the swamp cough. But she needs to do this without anyone realizing she is a witch, or they will hang her.

The specter of the noose haunts this excellent novel from beginning to end, as Briony sorts through her half-remembered past trying to get at the truth of who she is and what exactly she did.

(Image: from the author's web site)

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