Bookshelves of Doom has been talking up one particular author: Franny Billingsley. Especially to praise her books The Folk Keeper (which was published almost a decade ago) and her newest novel, Chime. Needless to say, my curiosity was sparked and since I haven't been able to get ahold of Chime yet (but trust me, I will), I was able to track down an older copy of The Folk Keeper in the meantime.
Corinna is a survivor. Not only was she able to transform herself into a boy named Corin to escape the drudgery of life as a female orphan but taught herself to become a Folk Keeper in the process. As a Folk Keeper, Corinna is responsible for watching over the elusive and sometimes dangerous Folk that live underground. Relatively happy with the control she now has over her life, Corinna suddenly finds herself at a loss after she is whisked off to Marblehaugh Park, a wealthy family's seaside manor, where whispers of her own dark past await. Always Corinna has been able to appease the Folk, but in this wild new manor house by the ocean, she is staggered to discover how ineffectual her powers have become. That is, until Corinna discovers new, startling abilities of her own which begin to manifest themselves in response to new dangers.
The Folk Keeper is one of those uniquely atmospheric books that I am clueless as to how to classify; so I will simply say this book squarely resides in a class all its own. Written as a series of journal entries, Corinna details her dealings with the temperamental Folk - her successes and failures - and later, her dealings with the Lord Merton's family. At the outset of her Record, Corinna is sharp, vengeful, and truth be told, almost a little scary in her intensity. But her self-awareness is utterly compelling and the imagery of her new life living close to the sea... utterly stunning. This is perhaps where the author, Franny Billingsley shines - in the crafting of such a tangible, natural (albeit fictional) world where the sea crashes, storms rage, and the land swells with secrets. As the secrets surrounding Corinna's connection to Marblehaugh Park begin to unravel, I found myself wishing there was another 100 pages of Corinna's story to discover.
I've read that fans of Neil Gaiman would probably find themselves a home in Franny Billingsley's books and after finishing The Folk Keeper, I agree. Just enough darkness and excellent world-building based on folk tales to keep you flipping the pages. And occasionally even looking over your shoulder.
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
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book source: purchased