Chime by Franny Billingsley
The plot as I could figure: Briony is a witch. She lives on the edge of the swamp with her twin, Rose, and their pastor father, ever since Briony called up a swamp spirit to flood the house and injured her stepmother. When Eldrich moves into town, Briony is a bit smitten, but Eldrich likes Leanne, who makes Briony feel weird. Then Rose gets the swamp cough, a fatal disease brought on by another of the swamp spirits, and Briony will have to reveal that she is a witch to get the spirit to make her sister well again.
I wanted to like this book so badly. The jacket blurb sounded intriguing; it was nominated for the National Book Award; the cover looked a little bit steampunk. I just had a really hard time reading it. The language was strange and did not flow or make much sense – although at times the language was quite beautiful and interesting in a totally weird way – and it was like trying to figure out a story told from the stream of consciousness of an insane person (not totally unlike my experience reading The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner). It was not as difficult as The Sound and the Fury by any stretch but at a certain point I just wanted the book to be over. The idea of the “Chime Child” – a person who could identify witches – did not seem important enough for most of the book and I wished more of this world was fully explained… or explained by a more reliable narrator.