Sunday, 30 October 2011
78. "The Folk Keeper" by Franny Billingsley
Page count: 176 pages
Date begun: September 30th, 2011
Date finished: October 10th, 2011
Corinna Stonewall is prickly, aloof, stubborn and vindictive, her hair grows two inches every night, and she has many secrets. Raised in an unkind environment in a children's home, she cut off her hair, pretended to be a boy and learned the skill of the Folk Keeper, someone who keeps the cave-dwelling, fierce and destructive goblin like creatures from souring the milk, harming farm animals and making food rot. Only boys can be Folk Keepers, so Corinna has to pretend to be Corin to gain the power and independence she so desperately craves.
One day, the dying Lord Merton comes to the children's home, wanting her to take over the Folk Keeper duties at his estate at Cliffsend. At the estate by the sea, Corinna is irresistibly drawn to the ocean, makes friends for the first time, and finally discovers who she is, and why she's never really fit in anywhere else.
The Folk Keeper is not a very long book, and the whole thing is written as Corinna's journal, chronicling first her duties as Folk Keeper in a little town and revealing her miserable childhood and the reasons for her abrasive personality, and later her discoveries at Cliffsend, and the slow changes her new life brings out in her. Corinna is a wonderful character, even in the beginning of the book, and she is so strong and self-reliant that as the book progresses and she learns that she can occasionally trust and rely on others, and her personality gradually softens and her life becomes happier, you cheer for her.
There is a romantic element to the book, but the most important aspect is a young, lonely girls process of self discovery and finding a place of acceptance and belonging. It's recommended audience is from 10 upwards, and I wish I'd had wonderful fantasy stories like this when I grew up.