Cover image for The Folk Keeper
The Folk Keeper
Billingsley, Franny, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1999.
Physical Description:
162 pages ; 22 cm
Orphaned Corinna disguises herself as a boy to pose as a Folk Keeper, one who keeps the Evil Folk at bay, and discovers her heritage as a seal maiden when she is taken to live with a wealthy family in their manor by the sea.
General Note:
"A Jean Karl book."
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.3 6.0 32731.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.8 11 Quiz: 20524 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"Here in the Cellar," Corinna says, "I control the Folk. Here, I'm queen of the world." As Folk Keeper at the Rhysbridge Home, she feeds the fierce, dark-dwelling cave Folk; keeps them from souring the milk, killing the chickens, and venting their anger on the neighborhood; and writes it all down in her Folk Record. Since only boys are Folk Keepers, she has disguised herself as a boy, Corin, and it is a boy and a Folk Keeper she intends to stay.Yet there comes a moment when someone else knows the truth. Old, dying Lord Merton not only knows she is a girl, but knows some of her other secrets as well. It is at his bidding that she, as Corin, leaves Rhysbridge to become Folk Keeper and a member of the family on Cliffsend, an isle where the Folk are fiercer than ever they were at Rhysbridge.It is on Cliffsend that Corinna comes face to face with herself, with the powers she does have (some quite unexpected) and those she does not have (even if she lies and says she does). Who really is she? Why does her hair grow two inches a night? Why does the sea draw her? What does she really want? And what future can and will she choose?

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. The author of Well Wished (1997) draws on selkie folklore for an eerie tale of young, orphaned Corinna, who disguises herself as a boy so she can pose as a Folk Keeper. Her job is to keep at bay the ravenous Folk that live beneath the foundling home by feeding them and siphoning off their anger so they won't spoil the milk, frighten the livestock, rot the harvest, and so forth. Then she's summoned by the dying lord of a vast estate on Cliffsend, the largest of the Northern Isles, which has miles of underground caverns populated by wild, especially savage Folk. She not only is to be the Folk Keeper but is also, to her bewilderment, given a place at the family table. She's unpleasant and vengeful at first because of her hardscrabble life, but she thrives and mellows in the north, close to the sea, as she slowly learns about her heritage; for example, why the sea calls to her, why she has an internal clock, why her hair grows two inches a night, and who her parents were. She faces great danger from the fierce Folk, who are "mostly wet mouth and teeth," and is threatened by a member of the family who wants her out of the way. She also falls in love with the heir to the estate. The telling is immediate and compelling, and there is a decided sense of impending menace, especially when Corinna is trapped in the underground caves. A memorable story that unfolds largely through the entries in Corinna's Folk Record. --Sally Estes

Publisher's Weekly Review

Billingsley (Well Wished) imagines a fascinating subterranean world and infuses a strong feminist theme into this poetically wrought tale featuring a 15-year-old orphan. Corinna Stonewall, who earned her name for her stubbornness, is at odds with a hierarchical society filled with lords and ladies. Rather than succumb to her fate of becoming a servant girl, she reinvents herself as a boy named Corin and secures a position as "Folk Keeper." Her job is dangerous: she must protect the mainland village of Rhysbridge against the harmful pranks of the Folk, devilish underground creatures who thrive in darkness. But Corinna feels freer in her dank cellar quarters than in the outside world. Then one day, a mysterious dying man arrives who seems to see past her disguise and hires her to work at the island estate he shares with his wife, Lady Alicia. Drawing on storytelling traditions and yet creating a completely original labyrinthine underworld, the author sends Corinna on a spiritual as well as physical journey. The tale unfolds through Corinna's Folk Record, her most prized possession, which chronicles the activities of the dark-dwelling creatures. While fending off the fiercer breed of Folk threatening Lady Alicia's seaside manor, the heroine makes discoveries about her past, the special powers she possesses and her strange attraction to the sea. The plot thickens as Corinna struggles to keep her gender and special powers a secret and fights her growing feelings for a kindred spirit: Lady Alicia's son, Finian. Strong visual imagery manages both to orient readers and yet to leave them with an odd feeling of disorientation ("The walls were heavy draperies, stone folded upon stone, lustrous with damp"). In this way, Billingsley brilliantly creates a reading experience that parallels Corinna's own experience. The author's ear for language, her use of classic motifs and her stalwart heroine make this novel an evocative, unforgettable read. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-A young orphan charged with placating the volatile Folk, believed to control her people's fate, discovers the world of the sea and begins to understand her mysterious heritage. A gripping gothic romance and selkie tale rolled into one. (Oct.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Corinna, 14, knows that she is unusual-her silver hair grows two inches a night; her skin is translucent; and she has an amazing way with the Folk, dangerous beings who live beneath the ground. A foundling, Corinna disguises herself as a boy, renames herself Corin, and works as a Folk Keeper for the Rhysbridge Foundling home, until a great Lord and Lady arrive looking for Corinna but leaving with the close-enough Corin. The girl doesn't understand why she has been invited to live in a great Manor House, but insists on remaining a Folk Keeper instead of becoming a "gentleman." Life at the Manor brings complications: a budding friendship with the young heir and an attempt on her life by a greedy relative. Eventually, she learns that she is much more unusual than she had thought-she is half-Sealfolk, and so must belong always to the sea. Corinna's conviction that she is special and different is one with which many young people will identify. She is arrogant with the certainty that she knows how the world is and what she wants from it; when presented with new possibilities, she reels but is flexible enough to accept them. Written in diary form, this tale takes place in a mythical England of an earlier time, when humans and magical beings lived side by side, not always amicably. Readers who relish a rich fantasy will devour this coming-of-age story.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

From Candlemas to the Feast of Saint Lancet
From the Day of the Seven Spirits Throuqh Bledstone Day
Cupid's Crossing
Saint Valentine's Eve to the Feast of Saint Valentine
Feast of Saint Valentine Throuqh Mischief of All Sorts
Fastern's E'en to the Tirls of March
Storms of the Equinox Throuqh Egg Sunday (and Other Matters I'dRather Not Discuss)
Beltane Through Midsummer
Midsummer Midniqht Throuqh Midsummer Dawn
Including Balymas Day (the Feast of the Keeper Is Tomorrow!)
The Feast of the Keeper, but What Is It to Me?
Including the Feast of Dolores, the Skeptic (and Other Feast DaysI Do Not Care to Name)
Harvest Rose Festival to the Harvest Fair
The Harvest Fair
The Harvest Fair (Will It Never End!) Throuqh the Storms of the Equinox
A New First Paqe