Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Folk Keeper, by Franny Billingsley

Oh, how frustrating! I had a whole review of this book almost complete, and blogger lost it. It was a good review, too. I compared The Folk Keeper to Wolves of Willoughby Chase: old stone house in lonely setting, supernatural menace, original use of traditional folklore elements. The difference is the narrator: Corin/Corinna is fierce and single-minded and not very nice, and yet our sympathies are entirely with her. She disguises herself as a boy so that she can have the post of Folk Keeper at the orphanage: her job is to draw off the malice of the invisible Folk who live under the house. It says much about her character that she lies and schemes to get this dangerous yet important position. She thinks this is everything she wants in life, but then she is brought to Marblehaugh Park (the old stone house in the lonely setting), and she learns things about herself that she had never imagined. I have to quote from the review at Amazon.com because she says it so well: a proud, ferociously self-reliant girl who breaks out of her dark, cold, narrow world into one of joy, understanding, and even . . . But that's more of a spoiler than I'm prepared to give. (Don't cheat and go read the Amazon review!) 

I said lots of other clever things that I can't remember now, but here's my conclusion:

The plot is original but has the inevitable feeling of a folktale: the orphan finds a home; the child discoveres her true identity. Corinna's journey into herself is surprising, convincing and satisfying. I found The Folk Keeper atmospheric and suspenseful, and quite, quite unique. (I think I may not wait for our library to get Chime; I don't usually buy books before I read them, but I feel pretty confident about Franny Billingsley as an author.)

The Folk Keeper is a salad of wild greens and bitter herbs with a few curls of Grana Padano cheese and a very light, lemony dressing, served with artisan bread and fresh butter.

1 comment:

  1. Someday I will let read my little sister read this book, It's all worth sharing for.