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The Folk Keeper
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the most original children's novels to be published in 2003, this has a real tang of the otherworldly about it. Told in diary form, it is the story of an orphaned girl pretending to be a boy. She is someone who can control The Folk - malicious spirits that devour offerings of food and even bits of their Keeper.
Removed to a castle in the bleak north, Corinna's mysterious origins slowly become clear, as do the reasons for her hair growing two inches a night, her taste for fresh fish and her ability to call up storms. Romantic, thrilling and very dramatic this will absorb children of 10+
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 14 September 2003
When this book was given to me by my mother I grabbed it immediatly, I think you just KNOW when you find the best books in the world. I tore through it, and finished by supper, then I wrote a song, it influenced me so much! I have now read it twice,and will probably read it many more times in the future. I love Corinna and the way she's so different and so brave.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2008
This is one of those perfect little books like "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman, or "Holes" by Louis Sachar where the writer picks you up on the very first page and doesn't let go of you until the very end. Wonderful characters, strong but simple story, and beautiful vivid descriptive writing. I loved it just as much as my twelve-year-old daughter did.
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on 27 July 2011
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.

writes Corin(na), The Folk Keeper of Rhysbridge in his journal, Folk Record (this novel).Dear readers, The Folk Keeper as a book, as a novel, is a personal journal of Corin Stonewall.So please bear with me as i refer to the book, this story, as the Folk Record henceforth in this review.

Corinna Stonewall is a 15 year old orphan who changes herself to Corin,a boy to become a Folk Keeper at Rhysbridge Foundling Home.Her job is to keep FOLKs away, so that they don't destroy crops, kill animals and hurt humans. And what are FOLKs ? Well they are fierce, wild and terrifying creatures and if they are not fed well and if they get angry, they become very destructive.Nobody has ever seen FOLKs,not even Corinna. FOLKs live in Cellar.

Corin is taken from Rhysbridge to Marblelaugh Park in Northern Isles to protect Lord Merton and Lady Alicia's estates of FOLKs.Lord Merton is the only person who knows Corinna's secrets.He knows she can tell accurate time and that her hair grows two inches every night.In cliffsend, she meets Finian.Its in Northern that Isles she finds her true self.Its here that she comes to make choices of her lifetime.

My thoughts

The Folk Keeper,Folk Record is a retelling of selkies' legend. What is/are selkies ? This is what wikipedia threw at me

Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are mythological shapeshifting creatures that are found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore.Selkies are seals that can shed their skin to become humans.

The story is dark, and quite frankly i loved all the darkness in Folk Record.

Corinna is an orphan with absolutely no memory of her parents or her origin . Her choice to become Corin, I think, comes from her desire to have power.Corin is a person who makes her powerful, who lets her live her life her own way. Corin is the person through whom she can get back at world.Corin triggers this unapologetic vengeful alter ego of her. And you can see this in Folk Record here

No one can tell a falsehood about Corinna Stonewall and remain unpunished.Matron should have known that.She should have known I'd take a fierce revenge.You have to.The world will otherwise use you shamefully.

Did Corinna want to become Corin. Or did she become Corin and lose herself as Corinna? I loved the struggle wherein parts of Corinna mix up with that of Corin's, where Corinna struggles to be accepted and cared for, while Corin would have not bothered about it.Is it possible to choose an identity for yourself and live with it throughout ?

Thank you Ms Billingsley you have given me an unapologetic heroine, one of her kind, one who will be remembered for a long time.

There is a romantic aspect mentioned in Folk Record.Let me tell you its just a part of the Folk Record but a beautiful and lovely part to wait for, till it happens.

The Folk Keeper might seem to be a small package at 162 pages.Now if you think you can get through the book easily, I am afraid you might miss the immeasurable depths hidden in this whimsical, at times(very rarely) poetic prose.And what you get in this small package is a folklore of its kind and a story of its kind.

Dear Ms Billingsley

Please keep writing as you have vivid and eccentric imagery, a powerful pen and starving readers like me
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The Folk Keeper is set sometime in the past when we travelled by horse and coach and villages grew and raised their own food ... and people had to worry about controlling `The Folk'. Corinna, the main character, cuts off her beautiful long hair, wears trousers and masquerades as male adolescent, Corin. Only males can be Folk Keepers and this is what Corinna, now known as Corin, wants to do with her life. She's secretly listened into the conversations of other Folk Keepers, bribed secret lessons from some of the boys at the orphanage where she lives and taught herself everything she knows. I found Corin to be a smart and amusing character who wasn't about to let anyone get the better of her and I was totally under her spell after just a couple of chapters.

The Folk Keeper is written as journal entries Corin makes in her Folk Record. The writing is very whimsical and the sentence structure is a little different from usual and can be quite difficult to take in at some points, with a lot of the writing as short, stunted sentences. I did occasionally get a little confused, especially if I'd been interrupted for any reason and I had to go back a page or two and read it again, but all in all, this was a fascinating little book.

I was desperate to find out what exactly The Folk were and I loved reading the Folklore and picking up bits of information Corin noted in her journal. What kind of creatures were these `Folk' and how come they ate so much and caused mayhem to the animals and crops, especially on feast days? Why did the posh family want to adopt her? Why did she feel so `at home' near the sea? I had so many questions almost immediately I started reading and it was a fun and enchanting journey finding out the answers as little snippets of information were given up here and there allowing the tale to come together.

When I picked up The Folk Keeper I thought that at 162 pages I'd have it read in no time. I was wrong! This book takes a fair bit of concentration and will probably take you twice as long as you think to read. Don't let this put you off though - the story is totally enchanting and definitely worth every minute of your reading time!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it's a beautiful and enchanting story very reminiscent of an old fashioned fairytale.
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on 15 August 2011
First of all I want to say a massive thank you to the lovely people at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book to read!

This book follows the story of 15 year old orphan Corrina who has been disguising herself as a boy and has also managed to pass herself off as a Folk Keeper. One day she is summoned to a dying old man who is looking for Corrina, still passing herself off as a boy she agrees to go with him as the new Folk Keeper for his estate.

But things are not what they seem and when she gets to the estate she realises these Folk are different than what she is used too. There are lots of secrets surrounding the estate as well and Corrina must figure it out before it is too late.

I did enjoy this book, it is a historical fiction book and is told in first person through Corrina's diary entries. I liked the way the book was presented in the diary entries, it broke up the chapters quite nicely and made it easier to read.

There is a romance element to the book as well, which I really enjoyed. The romance isn't too much, and doesn't take over the whole plot line, it's like an added little extra.

I did get quite confused when I first picked up the book, I would have liked a bit more explanation as to who the Folk are. After finishing the book however I like that you aren't told and it is left up to your own imagination to think up what the Folk are like.

Overall a short but gripping historical read with a paranormal twist to it!
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on 27 June 2011
I am torn between giving it a 2 or a 3 to be honest. The first 3 quarters of the book is about The Folk and Corinnas job. It is only when you get this far in and the story develops a twist that you understand (or at least start to) the build up. I still found it quite confusing as when you get to the end The Folk didn't really have to be in it (I felt) and the last quarter was the actual real story.

Perhaps I just don't have the imagination and that maybe I missed what the author was trying to do but I felt it didn't pick up until the last quarter and The Folk angle wasn't required. I really enjoyed the latter part of the book but even after finishing it I don't get the relevance to The Folk.

3 of 5 for me and the 3 is purely based on the part of the story I liked, the rest is definately a 2. I have another book by this author and will certainly read it but with this one I just didn't get a big chunk of it.
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on 21 December 2013
After reading Franny Billingsley's 'Chime' I ordered her earlier book 'The Folk Keeper'. It has a similar blend of folk-lore and fiction, a determined heroine, a likeable hero, a nasty villain, and a lot of incident. I enjoyed it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2006
I got this book a while back because it looked like an interesting book and it'd had good reviews. Although it was ok to read, and a good story, i didn't think it was that great. It seemed to me to drag on a bit and wasn't that believable - like the girl in it isn't very old, but she writes like an adult and is really serious, and i think it lacks fun - especially for a young book.

It's a good story though, and does have some good points - it is interesting in places, and had a few unexpexted twists, and it picks up after the beginning. I wouldnt read it again though. So although ok, it not a great read
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Folk Keeper is a beautifully written, unusual novel that I hadn't heard of until just recently, thanks to the author's new novel, Chime, also being published this month. It's one that took me a while to get into properly, thanks to its somewhat unconventional plot and unanswered questions that never seemed to be addressed. By the time I'd finished it, I realised that part of its charm was the way we don't know when it's set or that we never find out for sure what the Folk are - whether they're spirits, fey or some other evil creature - and that that's okay. I'm still wondering what they were, and I think I'm going to go with ghosts. Very hungry, nasty ghosts!

Corinna started off as quite a puzzling character. She has been pretending to be a boy for the last few years in order to be a Folk Keeper, as girls aren't thought to be able to do carry out that particular duty. She had a way with convictions and secrets, found herself drawn to eating live fish and possessed a head of hair that grows two inches every night. Her story unfolded nicely throughout the novel, and it wasn't until near the end that her true heritage became clear. Billingsley also included a sweet, innocent thread of romance for Corinna, which fitted in well and never seemed out of place.

Billingsley's writing and prose was lovely to read, and her sentences sparked brilliant visuals in my head. I felt like I was right there in the sea or on the rocks with Corinna, or in the cellar with the creepy Folk people. There was definitely a gothic undertone to this novel, and it reminded me very much of when I first read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. They're completely different, of course, but both made me live in the detailed descriptions and dark atmosphere.

The Folk Keeper is a relatively short novel, and my only real complaint is that it could have been longer. Just as I finally found myself fully immersed in Corinna's diary entries and her looming choices, it ended. It was left wide open with room for a sequel should the author ever want to revisit the story, but whether she will or not remains to be seen. I enjoyed it though, and I'm really glad I got the chance to read it. It was unexpected and surprising, and now I can't wait to read Chime!

3.5/5
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