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.
First Line"I've confessed everything and I'd like to be hanged."
This is the type of writing to drink in nice and slow, like a lemonade on a hot summer's day. The way Ms. Billingsley turns words and sentences is new and fresh.
Briony believes she is a witch. She has a way with words that is very enjoyable to read.
Briony tells herself she is wicked and must obey all her dead stepmother's orders: Take care of your twin sister, Rose. Don't go in the swamp. Never tell anyone you're a witch.
Everything goes along fine until Eldric comes into town. This character I REALLY liked! I liked his playfulness, witty remarks, creativity, humor and the way he knows and takes care of Briony.
I also enjoyed Rose, Briony's twin sister who has a bit of Autism. She's delightful.
The whole cast is interesting, intriguing, and with their own quirks and strengths. The ending was satisfactory and better than I thought it would be. Can I saw again I. Love. Eldric.
Here are a few interesting lines:
"Another few minutes won't hurt, " said Father in his sermon voice, which is his favorite voice, the one he starches and irons every morning (p. 5)."
"The kitchen door groaned. It was arthritic and cranky from the flood, and it took advantage of every opportunity to complain (p. 13)."
All that being said, sometimes Ms. Billingsley way with words got in the way of the story for me. I tried to picture her sentences in my head or I tried to decipher them only to miss a part of the story.
Also, I couldn't decide if Briony really saw and heard the Old Ones or if she was hallucinating/crazy or if it was her imagination. Still not really sure.
Rating: PG 13
V: punches, things in the swamp trying to rip off hands
L: "B" word used in reference
S: kissing, boy trying to take advantage of girl
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25% test (p. 90):
"...on an island of moss. Against it, I set the knife.
A burble of water--that meant the Boggy Mun was stirring. A wailing of wind--that meant the Boggy Mun was rising.
I opened the twist of newspaper, sprinkled salt onto the moss. Next came the knife. Which hand to use, left or right? My left hand was nimbler, but my scar constricts my range of motion. I took the knife with my right hand.
Slicing yourself is harder than you'd think. Your skin doesn't slice, not like bread of cheese. Your flesh pushes back.
I though of what I did to Rose. I thought of what I did to Stepmother. I pushed through my mushroom skin. Self-hatred is powerful: Out came the blood, drizzling into the salt.
"Boggy Mun, I, Briony Larkin, come to beg of you a boon."
Should I tell him I'm a witch, or would he already know? If he knew I was one of the Old Ones, might he be more likely to grant my request? A trade discount, so to speak?
The water lip-lapped; the wind wailed.
"You have sent the swamp cough to us, to the people of the Swampsea. Our loved ones are dying and dead. If you will take back the swamp cough, I promise to visit this spot every evening and give to you our salt and give to you my very own blood."
The wind wailed.
"Every evening," I said. "I promise faithfully."
"An' church days?" said a dry little voice.
A witch can fell surprise, but it takes her only a minute to swallow it down.
"Church days too."