Briony is wracked with guilt. She is a witch, and she believes her powers were responsible for her stepmother's death and her twin sister's mental peculiarities. Her stepmother supposedly committed suicide, but Briony feels differently:
The quote which appears so early in the book holds great significance.
"...the villagers are wrong about Stepmother, and so is Father. She would never kill herself. I'm the one who knew her best, and I know this: Stepmother was hungry for life."
To deal with the guilt, Briony indulges in self-hatred. What she says about herself and what she actually does, however, are often at odds. She says she cannot love, but although she often becomes irritated with Rose, Briony does take care of her, worry about her, and try to keep her healthy and happy. When Rose is threatened, Briony is prepared to risk everything.
The style is unusual, the language, often rhythmic. There were several places when I thought the author caught an idea or situation perfectly. I like this one:
"What a strange word, craving. What is it, really? It's hard to describe, despite the fact that it keeps you up all night. It's trickier than pain. It's an itch stuck below your skin."
The novel is a YA novel, but I eagerly turned the pages. A little fantasy, a mystery, a bit of romance...
Fiction. Fantasy. 2011. 361 pages.