pub date: March 17, 2011
source: ALA Midwinter
appeals: supernatural, witches,
content: a little swearing
First off, look! I'm actually writing a review!!!!
Second, I was really amazed by this book. I've never read anything quite like this before.
The thing about this book that makes it so original is Briony's voice. It's also sort of stream-of-conscience. We get Briony's thoughts as she things them, so it's forth between different ideas, or her interupting her own thoughts. Even changing her thoughts in midsentence when it's something she doesn't want to think about. Very cool.
And the way she describes things, I can't even tell you what it's like. Billingsley's language is beautiful, her descriptions amazing. It's so...fluid. Her words just flow. Okay, that makes no sense, I'm just not sure how to describe it. Though after a while I did want some concrete descriptions, instead of the "flow." But it was really beautiful and amazing and original.
The world Billingsley created was also so very interesting. Witches and all these interesting, original, sort of creepy swamy creatures. And they aren't imaginary. The townspeople believe in them, have proof of them. There isn't a question in anyone's mind that they might be a myth.
I loved the beginning, I loved the ending (especially the last two pages), but the middle got a little muddy for me. I felt like Briony kept going in circles, around and around without hitting any mark for what felt like a long time. From the blurb (below) and the way the book was written, I had a pretty good idea what was going on and I got a little frustrated waiting for Briony to catch on. I also really wanted her to push past her guilt sooner.
Even though I got a little bored in the middle and at times I just wanted concrete details instead of Briony's flowery descriptions, this really is a remarkable book. Overall, I highly recommend.
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.