Chime, by Franny Billingsley
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. -summary from Goodreads
I absolutely adored this book, and would read it again in a heartbeat. The writing style is lyrical and musical and haunting; perfect for a book that is set in this world, but has a part of it in another world. I loved the characters. Briony, Eldric, Rose, Tiddy Rex...even the characters who don't get a lot of page time are fully developed. By the end of the book, you know them. And no one is a caracature. I loved Briony's sass and spirit, even though her heart was broken; and I loved that Eldric was fun and irreverant, but with a hidden maturity. And as far as the story goes, I loved the way it unfolded so delicately. You know pretty early that there's more to the story than what Briony knows and believes, but you have to stick with her as she finds it out.
Bottom line: read this book!