Briony knows the way the story should go: a handsome stranger arrives to save the beautiful woman, and they live happily ever after. “But this isn’t a proper story,” she says, “and I’m telling you, I ought to be hanged.”
Only a witch can see the Old Ones, and doesn’t need a Bible Ball in the swamp. Only a witch would use her jealousy to call the Boggy Mun to hurt Stepmother. Only a witch can conjure fire from air.
Torn between fear of discovery and a wish to be punished for her crimes, Briony does her best to care for her sister and avoid the presence of Eldric, who she likes just a little too much.
But with children dying of swamp cough, it may not be long before Briony is unmasked. The question is, what will that mask reveal?
Challenging, but good
This is an odd little story, a little hard to understand. There are references to motorcars and trains, but the characters’ way of speaking and their high level of superstition makes the story feel much older. Plus there’s Boggy Mun and the Dead Hand and Dark Muses and Wykes…I never felt like I could completely wrap my head around the world the author built.
At first I was put off by the narration; stream-of-consciousness has never been my favorite, but once I got into the rhythm of things I realized it was the perfect style for the book. Briony is a complex character, and it was interesting to see the way Billingsley peeled back the layers. Briony reveals different things at different times, and the writing made it even more of a puzzle for me to put together.
The writing is excellent, packed with phrases so lush and full of life they’d bleed if you pricked them. Great characters (to love or hate, depending on the chapter), plus a twisty-turny plot that keeps you wondering until the last page. Thumbs up for Chime!