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The Folk Keeper

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,714 Ratings  ·  288 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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (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.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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 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
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
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
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
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...
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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?
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-bookshelf
Иван Величков
Какво става ако се комбинират красивата, отчайваща приказност на Андерсен и черната, готическа безнадежност на М.Р.Джеймс?
Мисля, че Folk Keeper е отговорът на този въпрос, който никога не бих си задал преди прочита на книжката.
Митично фентъзи, насочено към детската аудитория, което ми достави неимоверно удоволствие. Авторката успява да засегне доста теми свързани с навлизането на децата в лишения от илюзии свят на възрастните, без да набива някакъв фалшив, възвишен морал, без да дава отговори и
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
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.
I read this ages ago and forgot the title. It is a dark, dreamy story with unique mythology and a sharp-edged heroine.
Alpa Dedhia
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 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: 2011, fantasy, 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
Brandy Painter
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Middle grade readers (and their moms.)
Shelves: children-s-lit
Corin is the Folk Keeper. He keeps the Folk at bay, invisible angry creatures who sour the milk, make the hens stop laying, ruin the crops. Through the Folk Door, into the caverns, via the cellar, Corin brings the food offerings and spends hours in the dark, keeping the Folk Record.

But Corin is really Corinna, an orphan who has learned to protect herself from drudgery and humiliation. Now she is being fetched by a wealthy family from Cliffsend in the Northern Isles. Some mysterious past has come
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, mythic
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
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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.” 21 likes
“I like rain and mist. I've never understood why people exclaim over bright skies and bushels of glaring sunshine.” 18 likes
More quotes…