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THE FOLK KEEPER by Franny Billingsley


by Franny Billingsley

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82876-4
Publisher: Atheneum

From Billingsley (Well-Wished, 1997), an inventive and romantic fusion of the selkie tale with that of a nameless, hungry Folk who must be kept at bay. Corinna is crafty and sullen: she lives in the cellar of a foundling home whose dark and damp she loves, and keeps the Folk quiescent by offerings of food, and circles of iron and salt. She has made herself into a Folk Keeper by cutting off her silver hair, which grows wondrously, and passing herself off as a boy, for only boys perform this task. She has no training but she listens and learns, and when she is summoned to a great estate, she seizes the opportunity. Still in her boy’s disguise, she becomes Folk Keeper at Lady Alicia’s Cliffsend by the sea. With Lady Alicia’s son, Finian, Corrina learns from and loves the sea, which speaks to her in new ways, but mysteries of a former Lady, a buried child, and the sinister Sir Edward cloud her understanding. Writing in a diary format, with saints’ and solstice celebrations marking the movement of the Folk, Billingsley makes a rich metaphor of Corrina’s rejection of food and warmth, and weaves the discovery of her magic into the unfolding of her selfhood and her true history. This will surely enthrall those who loved Berlie Doherty’s Daughter of the Sea (1997). (Fiction. 10-14)