Cover image for Chime / Franny Billingsley.
Chime / Franny Billingsley.

Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books, ©2011.
Physical Description:
361 pages ; 22 cm
In the early twentieth century in Swampsea, seventeen-year-old Briony, who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes around their town, feels responsible for her twin sister's horrible injury until a young man enters their lives and exposes secrets that even Briony does not know about.
Audience/Reading Level:
Young Adult.

600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 4.4.

Reading Counts! 4.4.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
BIL Paperback Teen Collection

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Franny Billingsley is the award-winning author of four books, including The Folk Keeper --winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction--and Chime , which received six starred reviews and was a National Book Award finalist. A graduate of Tufts University and the Boston University School of Law, Franny left the practice of law to write full-time and hasn't yet looked back.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

After too long of an absence, Billingsley (The Folk Keeper) returns with the quirky but rich tale of 17-year-old Briony, who is convinced that she's a witch. Not only is Briony responsible for her twin sister Rose's disabling fall from a swing years earlier, causing brain-damage, she also believes she caused her stepmother's death. The 20th century has arrived in backwater Swampsea, England, and with it such wonders as railroads, motorcars, and pumping stations to drain the bog. But the supernatural Old Ones are unhappy with technology and have sent a fever to punish the children of Swampsea, including Rose. Desperate to save her sister's life, Briony is torn between her painful belief in her own irredeemably evil nature and her attraction to handsome, newly arrived bad boy Eldric Clayborne. "How could I bear it, Eldric living with us, this non-child, this boy-man? I'd have to keep on my Briony mask.... I'd have to keep my tongue sharp and amusing. Already I was exhausted." Filled with eccentric characters-self-hating Briony foremost-and oddly beautiful language, this is a darkly beguiling fantasy. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

"Ooze and muck and the clean muddy smell of life" suffuse Billingsley's long-awaited third work of fiction, which mingles "Tam Lin," "Lord Randall," and its own swampy folklore into an entirely original concoction -- and which confirms, yet again, how aptly fairy tale expresses the emotional landscape of adolescence. And more: how exceptionally well Billingsley uses it to do so. Narrator Briony Larkin is a self-proclaimed witch. She believes that out of childish jealousy of the attention Stepmother lavished on her twin sister, Rose, she called up the Old Ones, and Rose was brain-damaged in a violent windstorm. She avers that she is also responsible for Stepmother's injuries in a tidal wave. "We mustn't ever tell your father," Stepmother said. Now Stepmother's dead, and Briony hates herself, has sacrificed her future to care for Rose, forbids herself the joys of her beloved swamp, and fears her outing (and subsequent hanging) as a witch. But when Eldric comes to board at the family parsonage, bringing a young man's energy and his "busy London blood pumping just inches away," she begins to dig up suppressed memories. Tart, sad, funny, passionate, sensuous -- Briony is all of these. As complex and tightly woven as her protagonist, Billingsley's plot involves mystery, murder, romance, ancient lore, family drama, and sisterly love. Her Swampsea setting is earthy, visceral, and alive, and for all the adolescent self-hatred depicted here, there's also a welcome hyperawareness of the physical world that Billingsley articulates with impressive poetic vigor. deirdre f. baker (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.