Sunday, May 8, 2011

[Review] The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

Title: The Folk Keeper
Author: Franny Billingsley
Publication: April 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/AUS
Source: For review from publisher
Age: 15+ violence: murder
Pages: 176
My Rating:
Satisfying read

Corinna Stonewall is fifteen years old and an orphan. She is also Rhysbridge Foundling Home's Folk Keeper - a difficult and dangerous job which consists of looking after and controlling 'the Folk'- spiteful, maverick, savage creatures who live in the cellar and will only be prevented from spoiling the milk, terrifying the livestock and other disruptions by gifts of cream, salt pork and similar luxuries. But there are many questions about Corinna. Who are her parents? Why does her hair grow two inches a night? Why is she always drawn to the sea and long for the sweet taste of fish?
My thoughts: 

The Folk Keeper is one of those books that needs to be endured up until the end. As this book was a small one (less than 200 pages), I figured it would take only a day or two to read in its entirety, but up until page 100 or so I did not have much motivation to continue on. Then, a spark ignited, and I actually understood what was going on! If you read other reviews on Goodreads, you'll see other readers who were confused at the beginning also. I guess I have a soft spot for this book, because the ending (100-162 pp.) really sheds a hell of a lot of light on the rest of the book. This book is strangely reminiscent of L.K. Madigan's (RIP) book The Mermaid's Mirror, so my feelings kind of mirror what I felt of that book.

In The Folk Keeper, Corinna lives to survive in the human world by tending to the Folk, being renowned as the highest esteemed Folk Keeper in all the lands. When new owners take her away, and are surprised that she is actually a boy (Corin, disguised), the new village revels in their new Folk Keeper. But some things seem off, and all the secrets and Convictions that have been woven together for years, start to seep to the surface, and Corinna finally discovers who it is she has always been. And discovers just how far she would go to take it back.

The characters are thrown right in your face, so that you're juggling all these new names while trying to find out what is going on. Corinna, the protagonist, is stubborn, strong, brave and independent, but lacks a connection that can fulfil her. And so many other characters, but part of the fun of this book is actually being left guessing, so I'll leave that for you if you read it.

The Folk Keeper is written in an archaic style, which is difficult to grasp at first. Readers of Chime may see a resemblance here in this aspect, as the writing style is quite similar. The writing is detailed, but also sharp so that you might miss it if you're not fully attentive to every word. This is partly why it took me so long to read, because I was usually exhausted and read it before I went to sleep (I only got through 10 pages that way). The book is written in the form of a diary, though most of it is played out like a story.

The Folk Keeper is a magical journey that strengthens infinitely towards the end. At its core, this book is about finding yourself in a world that does not make complete sense. I recommend it to fans of fantasy books, as well as those who enjoyed Billingsley's Chime.


First Lines

"It is a day of yellow fog, and the folk are hungry. They ate the lamb I brought them, picking the bones clean and leaving them outside the Folk Door."


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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