Every once in a while, I read a book and think: I could never write this well. Such a book is Chime. It's exquisite from the first word to the last. It's deliciously dark, a mystery as well as a complicated love story and bildungsroman.
Back Cover: Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.
There really isn't anything Franny Billingsley doesn't do perfectly. The prose, humor, voice, pacing, intrigue . . . it's all there, but my favorite element is Briony's voice. She's certain she's wicked--evil even, though she doesn't mean or want to be. But her actions and thoughts contradict her negative self image.
She meets a self proclaimed "bad boy" who isn't really a bad boy at all, but she's convinced she's incapable of loving or being loved, that those she loves always come to harm.
Must read. Must own. Must track down Franny to get a signed copy.