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The Folk Keeper

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,064 ratings  ·  321 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 ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1999)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,064 ratings  ·  321 reviews

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Sharman Russell
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 Mridula
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
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it liked it
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
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.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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...
Sarah Mayor Cox
Feb 14, 2011 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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it
A lovely magical atmosphere and some beautiful ideas here, but as a whole the story lacked body. The pacing felt hurried and the characters were not at all fleshed out. Several more spoonfuls of TLC and what a lush tale The Folk Keeper would've been! For fans of selkies: One Saved to the Sea. ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. This book was dark and mysterious however not too dark. I enjoyed the main character and a good ending.
Nov 17, 2013 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
Oct 08, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Lulu (the library leopard)
Complicated thoughts…Mainly that I enjoyed the folklore aspects like the Folk and the Sealfolk but disliked the main romance (or, to be more specific, the age gap).
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 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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? ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was looking around for a new book and my partner pulled this off the shelf from me, from when she was younger. I liked it much more than I thought I would. It's about Corrine, a foundling who is in charge of caring for the Folk (who are sort of like very wild elves or something?) who live under the earth. But then she is called away to be the Folk Keeper on a northern island, and things spiral from there. Corrine is a fascinating heroine with an otherworldliness about her. The romance piece wa ...more
This was creepier than I remember it being, both because of the scary man-eating Folk that live in caves and the gothic manor full of secrets, and (unfortunately) because of the romance that would have been totally fine if it didn't have a weird and unnecessary age gap. However, I did like the lovely writing style, the unique faeries, and Corinna was a compelling narrator, so that kind of makes up for it? ...more
Becca Puglisi
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favourites
The Folk Keeper is everything I love about YA. It has a powerful simplicity and purity that serves the story well. The heroine is intrepid, strong and unique. I shed real tears over this painfully beautiful little book and I highly recommend.
I read this ages ago and forgot the title. It is a dark, dreamy story with unique mythology and a sharp-edged heroine.
Barbara Thomas
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice surprise.

A bit of a slow start, but it picked up, and that last third was great. I loved the reveal (really, multiple reveals) and the satisfying conclusion.
Amy Quennell
Jun 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it. I did try, but I didn't get on with the writing style. I'm sure if it's your cup of tea it's lovely, but I didn't enjoy it so I stopped. ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable tale of coping with Fey influences.
Sarah BT
Mar 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2011, own, ya
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
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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

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