I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.
I don’t mean to be difficult, but I can’t bear to tell my story. I can’t relive those memories—the touch of the Dead Hand, the smell of eel, the gulp and swallow of the swamp. How can you possibly think me innocent? Don’t let my face fool you; it tells the worst lies. A girl can have the face of an angel but have a horrid sort of heart.
This is how Chime begins, with the main character, Briony Larkin, asking to be hanged. She carries the responsibility for her family's hardships upon her slight shoulders, believing she killed her stepmother and caused the injury that made her twin sister simple. In her village, witches are hanged, and she believes herself to be one. Why else would all these bad things be happening?
You get the sense, reading Chime, that there's something Not Quite Right about this stepmother, and that Briony herself is innocent of any wrong-doing. What matters, though, is why. Despite the terrible burden she carries, she's a rather chipper young lady, subject to wild bouts of wordsmithery and cleverness. It's quite entertaining to read. Briony states at the beginning she doesn't want to talk about what happened, but gradually, she does. It's a slow uncovering, and Billingsley makes the journey enjoyable by dispersing throughout it historical clues as to the setting and an entirely rompable main character. (Rompable is my new favourite word. I may have made it up myself.)
Mr Rompable is the leonine Eldric, an educated and mischeivious man who boards with the Larkin family. He may or may not love another girl, but he scores the best dialogues with Briony. They have, if I may use a very English word, absolutely ripping conversations.
This book is set, as far as I can tell, in an English village just after the turn of the 19th century. Steam engines are mentioned. But witches are hanged. There are Old Ones in the swamp, like Brownie, a stick-y legged creature, and the Boggy mun. There's no explanation for why this is so. It just is. And there's nothing wrong with that at all.bright and cute, and has very unusual language.
Chime is bright and cute, and has very unusual language. A fun read.