Author: Franny Billingsley
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
This book was odd for me. It had a writing style that I would normally dislike, and pacing that moved really weirdly because of the narration. Even so, I still liked this book because the writing style matches the character of Briony. The book is told from her POV, but reading about her thoughts is made even better because of the weird narration.
The writing style was disjointed: pieces are missing, whether Briony just doesn’t remember it or she is keeping it from the reader. Briony knows she’s telling a story, and she paints herself as the bad one. She blames herself for the bad things that have happened to her family, and she is kind of atoning for it by taking responsibility for her younger sister. The narration is sometimes really vivid and clear, but some parts just seem to flash on by. It gives the reader an idea of Briony’s state of mind, how maybe she’s not exactly a hundred percent there.
As for the characters, Briony is really interesting. Like I said, she paints herself as the bad one since she can speak to these fantasy creatures and feels comfortable in the dangerous Swamp. I loved her stories about going into the swamp, adventuring and climbing through it. Seeing Briony start to question her guilt, seeing her starting to unravel things for herself, and trying to regain some of her old spirit all made this really good.
I also loved the relationship between Briony and Rose. At first it seems like one of one-way care and devotion, that Briony feels guilty and thus is caring for Rose as her self-imposed punishment. But as the story unfolds, the reader sees more of Rose and how she cares for Briony too. There’s also the case of Eldric and Briony, as they treat each other more like partners-in-crime (and mischief) rather have the awkwardness of a possible love interest.
The pacing moved oddly because of the narration, but it wasn’t too slow. Some hints were dropped about the twists, so it wasn’t completely surprising, but not completely predictable either. Nothing really smacked me in the face or felt like it was coming out of nowhere.
Overall: This book gets four out of five stars for showing me a disjointed and odd narration that works for the story. The relationships between the characters are very interesting, and Briony’s development through the story made it a good read.