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07/04/2003 Entry: "THE FOLK KEEPER - Young Adult with a touch of romance"

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I have just finished THE FOLK KEEPER by Franny Billingsley. This book is [sometimes] classified as Older Children rather than YA but is well worth reading. It is set in a fantasy variant of Great Britain in an undefined pre-industrial period. There are various supernatural creatures including the Folk who, if not fed and attended to, cause trouble: crops fail, food rots and animals sicken. The person who feeds them and absorbs their anger is the Folk Keeper. Only boys can become Folk Keepers and start off as apprentices, however Corinna, the 15-year-old heroine, has managed to become one by pretending to be a boy and by picking up information where she can find it.

The book is the latest volume of her journal and starts with her working as Folk Keeper at her latest Foundling Home. She enjoys her work - the Folk are easy to manage and it's a great improvement on the drudgery she would be otherwisedoing. Then people come looking for her. Although they are surprised to find a boy instead of the girl they were expecting they take her away to a large estate by the sea. They would prefer her to be reared as a son of the house but she insists on being the Folk Keeper. As a Folk Keeper she feels important and special, and she feels more comfortable in the cellars where the Folk live. However there is more to life than cellars and there is more to Corinna than even she suspects. Through the journal we see her discover who and what she really is, and the pleasures of life above ground. The romance is not really a large part of the book but is crucial to the plot. Corinna does not recognise her own feelings until near the end of the book but they motivate some of her more critical actions. --Margaret

What a coincidence -- I finished this book a week ago and enjoyed it very much, too. One of the things I particularly liked about THE FOLK KEEPER was the author's writing style. I found her descriptions lyrical. --Edith

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