The Folk keeper by Franny Billingsley
Bloomsbury, 2011, (c1999). ISBN 9781408813195.
(Age 11+) Recommended for those who love a retelling of a fairy tale, The Folk keeper has happily been reissued after the success of Chime earlier this year. Corinna Stonewall is a Folk Keeper. She sits in a cold, dark cellar feeding the Folk, drawing off their anger and keeping ordinary people safe from having their crops damaged and animals harmed. They are vicious, vengeful lot but Corinna is a determined, powerful girl who keeps them under control. One day she is summoned by Lord Merton to come to his vast holdings by the sea as Folk Keeper and unanswered questions rise to the surface. Who were her parents? Why does the sea call to her? How can she live in her own skin?
Billingsley writes fabulous, original prose with unforgettable characters and an understated romance.
Written as a diary, the reader is transported into the world of Corinna, as she struggles with who she is and her amazing powers. The idea of keeping evil, in the form of the Folk, at bay is intriguing but Corinna is undaunted. She is strong willed and determined, brave in the face of unknown danger but fair in her dealings with others. Finian, determined to build boats and not interested in estate management, is an excellent foil for Corinna, and gradually helps her to ease into a world of light.
I loved the challenging ideas, beautiful descriptions and memorable story in The Folk Keeper and know readers will experience delicious shudders at the scary moments while delighting in the plight of Corinna.