Author: Franny Billingsley
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin)
Length: 361 pages
Briony knows she is a witch. She knows she’s a witch because her stepmother told her so. How else could she be able to communicate with the other-worldly creatures who live in the swamp around her home; and how else could she have injured her twin sister, her step mother, and herself, all in separate, uncontrolled episodes of her witchly rage? But then the lionly handome Eldric comes to town and refuses to see anything dark or witchy about Briony, even though she’s the only one who knows how to stop the swamp cough from killing any more villagers. But if Briony tells what she knows, she’ll be hung, for that’s the only cure for girls who know they’re witches.
This book is all about perception of self: how you see yourself in relation to how everyone else sees you. Briony is filled with self-loathing because of the things she’s done. Which I’ll be honest, made me loath the book for the first 250 pages. (Another factor was the writing style, which, while beautiful, was often like plowing through a swamp murkier than the one in the book.) Briony’s constant self hate made me hate myself and I almost didn’t finish the book. But after all the loathing, I needed a happy ending, and I was determined that there was more to Briony than she herself believed, and so I kept reading to see if she and the book could be redeemed.
Eldric was another reason I kept reading. He was the bundle of light to Briony’s imposed darkness, and I loved him for it. Another thing I enjoyed about the book were how mythic creatures from the swamp just existed in Briony’s world. They weren’t painfully explained, they were just there.
Was Eldric enough to ultimately redeem the book in my eyes? Ehhhh.