Ok, ok, I REALLY enjoyed the writing style of this novel. Franny Billingsley has an incredibly unique command of the English language, and I look forw...moreOk, ok, I REALLY enjoyed the writing style of this novel. Franny Billingsley has an incredibly unique command of the English language, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I know the narrative voice/writing style bothers a lot of people, but that was not the problem I had with this book. In fact, it was the writing itself that made me want to finish the book. From this point on in my review I'm going to briefly get into what I didn't like and it will be very spoilery, so don't read on if you haven't read it yet! Non-spoilery version: Not a lot actually happens in this book and the few twists there are are incredibly predictable and obvious and there's just too much suspension of disbelief.
(view spoiler)[ So from chapter 1 it's obvious that Briony is not a witch (or at the very least is a "good" witch) and her stepmother manipulated her for some reason. Knowing this as a reader so soon would be fine, if it seemed like the author intended it to be that way (i.e. the reader knows more than the narrator). But it gets SOOOOOOO repetitive every thousandth time Briony refers to how "wicked" she is and what a horrible person she is and how impossible it is for her to love because she's wicked and it just becomes a really weak plot device to work in tension to the plot. And the book needs tension because hardly anything is happening to move things along. It also didn't take me but a few chapters to realise Briony was not only NOT a witch, but the new Chime Child (come on!! It's the title of the freaking book!!). I just feel like hardly anything progressed because as soon as Briony seemed to be growing as a character she would slam up against her "I'm a wicked witch and hate myself" wall, and I struggled to not roll my eyes at how daft she was being about things, how much effort she had to put in to not seeing the obvious truth. It was a bit weak when we finally find out that Briony was not only manipulated by her stepmother, but ~made herself forget~ that her stepmother was a Dark Muse. I didn't really buy that she would totally forget that.
I loved the last couple of chapters when she finally realises she was manipulated the whole time by her stepmother, and I would have really liked to see more of THAT personal journey. How liberating but also how terrifying it is for her to start over and love herself and figure out who she is after stepping out from her stepmother's shadow. I would have loved to see what her new relationship with Eldric looked like (after both of them had "broke") and how her relationship with her sister changed after her revelation.
(small nitpick: but I kind of hated how Briony was sort of a typical ~I'm not like the other girls, I'm a cool girl~. Like, of COURSE she sees Leeane as a rival (Leeane is girly! and smells good! and wears pretty dresses! ugh!). Briony has no female friends, she has Eldric, Cecil, and her old tutor Fitz. Aside from her sister, I would have loved if she had more positive female relationships. Sucked that both the stepmother AND Leeane ended up being ~evil seductresses~. I was actually rooting for Leeane to turn out normal to show that Briony was just unreasonably jealous. Bummer. (hide spoiler)]
So, if there's a sequel, I'll be pleased. But otherwise I'll need to check out Billingsley's other works.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)