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Folk

by Zoe Gilbert

Fantasy Modern and Classic Literary Fiction Star Books

LoveReading View on Folk

Step into another world, just on the edge of existence, a fairy tale if you will, but somehow sharper, more vivid, and quite startling as it draws on folklore and oh so human qualities and reactions. On a remote island called Neverness exists a village, we hear the story of the villagers, separate, together, living with and alongside a spellbinding natural world. The author Zoe Gilbert was the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award and this is her debut novel. Each chapter is a story in its own right, yet each leads to the next and the next to make one complete tale. This is a book that tested, pushed and pulled me, as it speared my attention and hurled it aloft. I felt, really felt so many emotions, from deep aching sadness, to bounding wonder, through to discovering warm love in unexpected places. Zoe Gilbert has created a place apart, simple, wild, and stunningly beautifully yet be warned, it has a ferocious bite. If you look, really focus straight ahead, then take your thoughts to the corner of your eye and feel there, just behind you, you may just see a glimpse of Neverness. Or you could settle down, and allow Zoe Gilbert to guide you into a breathtaking world. Folk is one of my picks of the month and I have fallen rather deeply in love with it!

Liz Robinson

Folk Synopsis

A captivating, magical and haunting debut novel of breathtaking imagination, from the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award The remote island village of Neverness is a world far from our time and place. The air hangs rich with the coconut-scent of gorse and the salty bite of the sea. Harsh winds scour the rocky coastline. The villagers' lives are inseparable from nature and its enchantments. Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm, unfurls his feathers in defiance of past shame; Plum is snatched by a water bull and dragged to his lair; little Crab Skerry takes his first run through the gorse-maze; Madden sleepwalks through violent storms, haunted by horses and her father's wishes. As the tales of this island community interweave over the course of a generation, their earthy desires, resentments, idle gossip and painful losses create a staggeringly original world. Crackling with echoes of ancient folklore, but entirely, wonderfully, her own, Zoe Gilbert's Folk is a dark, beautiful and intoxicating debut.

Folk Press Reviews

An extraordinary debut novel ... It feels both ancient - drawing on deep seams of myth and folklore - and strikingly contemporary, pushing at the edges of what we mean when we call a book a novel. In Folk, Zoe Gilbert has made a thing of strange and enduring beauty -- Alex Preston - Financial Times

Folk is a special book: immersive and dripping with life, each story a spell, an allegory, a dark, smoky poem divined from the landscape of our ancient kingdom ... It reads like a dream that, once visited, is difficult to leave behind -- Ben Myers - Guardian

Genuinely original, disturbing, beautiful and gripping ... Folk can be read as a map of the British mythic imagination: of the river under the river. Starkly original and expertly written, it draws you, like a faerie song, into a kingdom from which you may never escape, and may not want to - New Statesman

Dazzling and unsettling, much like the best and darkest of fairy tales - Times Literary Supplement

A dark, often discomforting debut ... Gilbert's sensuous prose conjures fantastical figures including a man born with a wing for an arm, and a girl who's abducted by a water bull ... Bewitching -- The Best New Fiction - Mail on Sunday

Folk is absolutely stunning. I loved it. With gorgeous, incantatory prose, it submerges you in a mysterious and utterly compelling world. Its illumination lingers long after you close the book - Madeline Miller, Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles

I was thoroughly absorbed. Zoe Gilbert's invented folk-world is sensuous and dangerous and thick with magic - Tessa Hadley, author of The Past

That rare thing: genuinely unique. It's part-myth, part-allegory, wholly wonderful -- The Best Fiction of 2018 - Observer

A captivating mythical, magical and haunting debut which draws on fascinating folklore -- Ten Debut Novels to Watch Out For - i

Wild, domestic, powered by elements both natural and weird, Folk hauls us into a past where there's room for magic and for mystery. Give in and go there - Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels

An utterly tantalising new voice. With Folk, Gilbert casts a powerful spell, creating a world on the page that feels as old as the hills and yet exquisitely alive ... To read Folk is to find oneself rapt - Alison MacLeod, author of All the Beloved Ghosts

There are themes of desire and longing, loss and mourning, and the rites of passage that must be undertaken to reach adulthood ... Folk has a powerful sense of mythology, reminiscent of Angela Carter -- Hannah Beckerman - Observer

As delightful and as dark as the collected Brothers Grimm. The village of Neverness is misted with secrets and sticky with magic. But as mystical as their circumstances might be the villagers are neither Cinderellas nor wicked-witches ... These tender portraits are, perhaps, Zoe Gilbert's greatest act of conjuring - Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You

Brilliant. It's visceral and savage, but the savagery always comes with a light touch ... The stories all have a beautiful fairytale quality that makes them look like they were spun out of one of Neverness's half-magic mists. It's a gorgeous, uneasy siren of a book - Natasha Pulley, bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The tales in Folk by Zoe Gilbert could have been ripped straight from the darkest pages of the Brothers Grimm. These intertwined fairy-tale-inspired stories are heavy with symbolism, lyrical and hypnotic - Good Housekeeping

A haunting portrait of a community steeped in folklore. Gilbert is a fine storyteller, and this is skilful, potent writing - K J Orr, author of Light Box

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408884317
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408884393
Publication date: 08/02/2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408884317
Publication date: 7th February 2019
Author: Zoe Gilbert
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 256 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month, Literary Fiction, Star Books,
Categories: Myth & legend told as fiction, Folklore, myths & legends,

About Zoe Gilbert

Zoe Gilbert is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014. Her work has appeared in anthologies from Comma, Cinnamon, Labello, and Pankhearst presses, and has been published in journals including The Stinging Fly, Mechanics' Institute Review, Bohemyth, Holdfast, Lighthouse, and the British Fantasy Society Journal. In 2015 she appeared at the Beijing Bookworm Festival in China on behalf of the British Council and was commissioned by Microsoft to create a short story book. She is working on a PhD in Fiction and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, focusing on the influence of folk tales on contemporary short stories. ...

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