This is the story an orphan girl who learned real early that boys get the better end of the stick. So she cut her hair, changes her name, and passes herself off as a boy. She also, through a mix of natural talent, gossip, and bribery won herself the position of The Folk Keeper. The one person who is in charge of keeping THE FOLK (faeries, brownies, hobgoblins, and the ilk) at bay down in the dark cellar. Suddenly, she is summoned to a strange old man who wants to adopt her. Still insisting she’s a boy, she agrees if she can be the new Folk Keeper of the manor. Looking to hold on to her vision of power by being the Folk Keeper at such a large estate, aspects of herself and her secret powers begin to change. Secrets to her past begin to unfold. It is interesting the way she comes into to her own. The whole story is told in a collection of diary entries.
I really liked this story. This novel takes place in a historical setting where the old magic was alive. The boy we meet at the beginning has quiet a ruthless in his out look on life and very defensive of his position as Folk Keeper. But, pride of position and a chance to increase the power he had created for himself leads him to accept a dying man’s offer. We soon learn that he is a she, hiding in a world that she has created. The boy is a cloak, the hardness a mask. I love the way this book was written. The diary entries serve as a place for Corin/Corinna to tell us about her the hard shell and illuminate the cracks as they appear for us to see and for her to discover. There is some stuff I could say here about lost bits, but I hate to give too much away.
“I tried to speak, but the furniture of my mind had all been rearranged, my words neatly folded and stored out of site.” P36
I really liked the language that Billingsley uses to build her world. Corinna’s got a really great voice and manner of writing for someone who had to bribe a fellow orphan to teach her to read and write.
“Like pieces of a Kaleidoscope, the ladies and gentlemen fell into patterns of color on the Ballroom floor.” P77
This is a great book and one I would recommend. I first heard about it at the Things Mean a Lot (check out her review) blog. Maybe I should say that is the first time it registered. I’ve passed the book almost daily on the book shelves, but never picked it up.