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The Folk Keeper

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,487 Ratings  ·  261 Reviews
She is never cold, she always knows exactly what time it is, and her hair grows two inches while she sleeps. Fifteen-year-old Corinna Stonewall--the only Folk Keeper in the city of Rhysbridge--sits hour after hour with the Folk in the dark, chilly cellar, "drawing off their anger as a lightning rod draws off lightning." The Folk are the fierce, wet-mouthed, cave-dwelling g ...more
Audiobook, 5 pages
Published September 20th 2009 by Listening Library (first published October 1st 1999)
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Cecilia Rodriguez She considers herself inhuman and above their concerns and issues. She does not feel guilt about deceiving them about her gender.
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Community Reviews

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Sharman Russell
May 31, 2015 Sharman Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished The Folk Keeper in just a few hours and almost in one sitting. I was reminded: this is one reason I like middle-grade literature. Short powerful stories you can enter and leave in a short time, something like a movie, rather than that other experience of reading a book over days or weeks. The latter is so stretched out, dipping your feet back in the water, getting into the flow again. The Folk Keeper was a plunge, into the waves! I was impressed. I felt like a ten-year-old again. (Thi ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I usually don't read YA: just picked up this book at a garage sale without knowing what it was, read two pages and abandoned it. I went back to it only because I wanted a slim volume to keep up my book count for the reading challenge... but now I am glad that I did. Good for goodreads!

I am in two minds about this book. The premise and story are superb, and the characters are drawn with a few deft brush-strokes. But this book is too thin, almost an outline for a novel than a novel itself. The beg
The Shayne-Train
Both the little one and I really enjoyed this book. The narrator has such a strong voice, and in the beginning (and mostly throughout) her utter disdain for people was endearing and entertaining.

Plus (~~minor spoilers~~), the fact that the narrator was a girl masquerading as a boy led us to a conversation about how some people feel the desire or downright need to dress as the opposite sex, whether out of fun, or self-identity. So I got to throw some open-mindedness and acceptance into her innoc
Once I started reading I couldn't put this book down. It was storming outside my window and I was huddled by my lamp devouring Billingsley's words. I stayed up the entire night reading and when I finished I was left wishing for more. I can probably credit this book for making me realize that writing doesn't have to be a boring and daunting activity. If I could find the right words I could make the exciting stories in my head come to life on paper for other people to enjoy.

I still get a little t
Sep 11, 2011 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Hmmmm. I'm still compiling my thoughts on this one, mainly wondering if I would be more impressed if I'd read The Folk Keeper before the superior Chime. This book feels like the precursor to Chime, the I'm-still-working-things-out on the author's part - things like mood and the delicate balance of eerie and fey, like better-integrated descriptions and language. I realize that some might think Chime to be overly long or endlessly narrated, but its language was so nuanced and lovely that the The F ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Folk Keeper is like a prototype for Chime. Something about the narration, the tone, the characters. I still liked it, though, even if not as much as Chime -- it's shorter, lighter, and it does have details all its own: Corinna has her own lovely-strange powers, her own story.

If you liked Chime, The Folk Keeper may seem like an easier, shorter version, but it's still very good. I read it all in one go, and apparently my train stopped in Cheltenham without me even noticing...
I really do just want to copy and paste Beth's review! I, too, felt like this was a not-as-good precursor to Chime. And to some extent, I was ALWAYS going to compare the next Billingsley I read to my beloved Chime, but this had a lot of parallels with the mysteries to both reader and narrator. The romance, too, had a similar flavor.

Anyway, this was nice enough.
Sarah Mayor Cox
Feb 14, 2011 Sarah Mayor Cox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 29, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Folk Keeper is set sometime in the past when we travelled by horse and coach and villages grew and raised their own food … and people had to worry about controlling ‘The Folk’. Corinna, the main character, cuts off her beautiful long hair, wears trousers and masquerades as male adolescent, Corin. Only males can be Folk Keepers and this is what Corinna, now known as Corin, wants to do with her life. She’s secretly listened into the conversations of other Folk Keepers, bribed secret lessons fr ...more
Jul 07, 2010 Nafiza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Franny Billingsley has magic in her fingers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she has magic in her mind. There are conventional ways to create characters and then there's the Franny B. way. Her protagonists (I've read three of her books so I know what I'm talking about) have this certain quality of otherness. This, how do I say it, unearthliness to them that make all of them just so fascinating to read.

Corinna is no different. The story is told in the first person and from the v
Nov 17, 2013 Millenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!! I mean it. EVERYONE!!!
There is so much to love about THE FOLK KEEPER, but if I had to say one thing about it, I would say that it is a perfect example of the Iceberg Theory.

In case you don't know, the Iceberg Theory describes the writing style of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway thought that if the writer was skillfull enough, she could give the reader minimal information in the narrative, a surface story if you will, but write in such a way that the underlying story "shines through" (as Wikipedia puts it), even if none o
Very, very unusual book. It would have been a great advantage being more fluent in English, because I'm not sure I understood all of it. Don't get me wrong, the story as a whole was easy enough to understand, but being doomed to failure, because of the little things? I have this feeling, I could have enjoyed it a little more, without this hindrance.

Corin/na is brave, vengeful, patient, stubborn and very, very smart. She's afraid that people will constrain her freedom, take away her rights once t
Corin/Corinna is the ‘folk keeper’ at Rhysbridge. She controls and tends to them, so that they will not create havoc on the people of the village. They have been known to sour the milk, kill the crops and harm the animals. So they must be appeased. Corinna knows that only boys can be folk keepers. She disguises herself. She is called to a new village to become the folk keeper of Lord Merton’s people. Lord Merton mysteriously knows her secret and eventually Corinna learns of other secrets, too. H ...more
Nov 11, 2016 Chelsea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet. The writing style in this book was very to-the-point, being descriptive when necessary and succinct otherwise. And because it was written in journal-style, only the key elements were included and not any long, perhaps unnecessary passages. Thus we are left with a short book, but a touching story. It is largely the story of Corinna's coming-of-age, but it surprising ways. I would definitely recommend it to any fantasy lovers.
Not sure if I should be giving this 3 or 4 stars. 3.5? I like Corinna's anger and ruthlessness, but it feels like it's missing something I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it needed to be longer?
Becca Puglisi
Apr 01, 2017 Becca Puglisi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Franny Billingsley does it again. She manages to create a magical, fantastical world that feels so foreign, yet so realistic, that you wish you could visit. Corinne is a great example of a main character that isn't exactly likable, but you're drawn to her and want her to succeed.
Alpa Dedhia
Jul 22, 2011 Alpa Dedhia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a day of yellow fog, and the Folk are hungry. They ate the lamb I brought them, picking the bones clean and leaving them outside the Folk Door.

writes Corin(na), The Folk Keeper of Rhysbridge in his journal, Folk Record (this novel).Dear readers, The Folk Keeper as a book, as a novel, is a personal journal of Corin Stonewall.So please bear with me as i refer to the book, this story, as the Folk Record henceforth in this review.

Corinna Stonewall is a 15 year old orphan who changes herself to
Sarah BT
Mar 09, 2011 Sarah BT rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Franny Billingsley has a new book coming out this month called Chime, which has everyone raving and already has six starred reviews. The kidlit world was buzzing with news of a new book by this author and I felt very out of loop-I had never heard of Franny Billingsley before! But then I realized it's been 11 years since her last book and I was in high school when it was released, so I felt a bit better about not knowing anything about it. While The Folk Keeper was critically acclaimed, it didn't ...more
Dec 12, 2010 Nina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Corinna Stonewall deigned avoid her fate as a servant girl, and knowing that boys have it better, she dons boy's clothing, cuts off her hair everyday (her hair grows two inches every night), and learns the trade of the Folk Keeper. The folk keeper tends to the feared Folk, who lives underground constantly angry and ravenous, spoils the milk, rots eggs and meat, and ruins crops. But when she is summoned to Merton Hall to be its new Folk Keeper, she discovers haunting, dangerous, and liberating se ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy, 2011, own
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 mano ...more
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

Corinna is a fascinating heroine. She has disguised herself as a boy so she might be a Folk Keeper. Everyone knows only boys can be successful Folk Keepers. It is her job to keep the mysterious Folk fed and content, to draw their anger so that they do not sour the milk, ruin the crops, or plague the livestock. It is a job she covets and protects for Corinna is hungry for power and has learned ways to gain it, to ensure it, and to make the most of it. "Here in the ce
Jun 26, 2011 Lainy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blurb from the back cover

Corinna Stonewall is fifteen years old and an orphan. She is also Rhysbridge Foundling Home's Folk Keeper - a difficult and dangerous job which consists of looking after and controlling 'the Folk' - spiteful, maverick, savage creatures who live in the cellar and will only be prevented from spoiling the milk, terrifying the livestock and other disruptions by gifts of cream, salt pork and similar luxuries. But there are many questions about Corinna. Who are her parents? Wh
Apr 14, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grabbed this off of the shelf of new books at my elementary school library. (Thanks Alice!) While it seems from the outside to be a young adult fantasy based on folk legends, the first few lines tell us immediately that this is another thing altogether. "It is a day of yellow fog, and the Folk are hungry. They ate the lamb I brought them, picking the bones clean and leaving them outside the /folk Door." These are not your everyday sprites, trolls, tree spirits, or mermaids from the fairy tales ...more
Mar 25, 2011 Minli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythic, middle-grade
I read this because I loved Chime so much and raved about it to everyone. A friend said she had no idea Chime was coming out, but she had read The Folk Keeper many moons ago and enjoyed it, and did I want to borrow her copy?

The answer was obviously yes. Reading The Folk Keeper illuminates my reading of Chime a bit more--the similarities are striking, both in tone and plotting. But as I collect more people's reactions of Chime, I have to acknowledge that it does maybe start slowly. Billingsley's
Oct 27, 2008 Luann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy, 2011
I liked this! It reminded me a lot of Mollie Hunter books. But I wonder how much of it I will remember in the future? I just finished it a few days ago and already the story is a bit hazy in my mind. It is written in first person as if it is the journal or Folk record of Corin, the Folk Keeper. Usually a book written in first person will really let you into that character's thoughts. This did that, but at the same time it made me feel a bit distant from the action. And I kept wondering about the ...more
Much to my surprise, I was swept into the world of The Folk, an old world form that inhabited stone and wrecked havoc in town and country. Told from the point of view of the young orphan who keeps The Folk under control, while coming to understand herself. While this is a coming of age tale, it's not at all the typical angst of puberty. Well done descriptions, consistent tone, and varied cast of characters. Slightly Gothic. (But I don't like the cover art. The candle and the door feel right, but ...more
I intsantly loved the cover to The Folk Keeper. It was one of the main reasons I picked it up. It's so very different to other covers of YA books. It has somthing magical to it. And do you know what? The Folk Keeper it self was truly magical.

Corinnna Stonewell. Gotta love her name! She's fifteen years old and an orphan. Although, she remains strong and is one hell of a charcter. However, there's something about her that's lost. Corinna has many quaestions. And so obiously, she wants some answers
Bjørnar Tuftin
This short and sweet book tells the story of Corin. Corin lives in a rather horrible orphanage, but by being determined and ruthless he's gained the position of Folk Keeper. This entails spending a lot of time in the cellar by the Folk door, bringing the otherworlders necessary sacrifice to keep them from spoiling milk, cheese and meat and sickening the livestock. It's not a glorious existence, but a Folk Keeper is given respect, even when he's a grubby orphan.
Then one day a fine lady comes sear
First Second Books
The language in this book is wonderful!

The other thing that I love most about this book is the vindictiveness of the main character. Corin (or Corinna, as the main character is a girl masquerading as a magical boy) is very clear about always having to reinforce his chosen position in the universe, generally by making unpleasant things happen to people who do not respect his position in the universe. Aside from this not being very nice (niceness being possibly an overrated quality anyways), it is
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
a most unusual fantasy, set in a world somewhat orthogonal to (Victorian?) England (?). The fairy folk, selkies, a lost's a bit like a classic melodrama mixed in with some folk-infused fantasy on one level, but the power, strangeness and evocativeness of the narrative kicks it into another level. A somewhat tidy ending for my tastes once again but I'm starting to realise that I possibly only like incredibly bleak endings or open endings.
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While Billingsley's first novel, Well Wished (1997), was warmly received by critics, a year ago she was a virtual unknown within a publishing climate that regarded fantasy as a specialty genre. Today, her name is on the lips of booksellers and reviewers throughout the country.

Franny Billingsley was not always a writer. She graduated from Boston University law-school in 1979, and worked for 5 years
More about Franny Billingsley...

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“It is true that I can trip over anything and nothing – a speck of dust, a patch of sunlight, an idea. I move through life like a person with one eye, through a landscape that looks flat, but is really tricked out with hidden depths and shallows. It didn’t use to be so, but no matter. I navigate the world well enough in my own way.” 20 likes
“I like rain and mist. I've never understood why people exclaim over bright skies and bushels of glaring sunshine.” 17 likes
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