Folk by Zoe Gilbert
My new commute to work has taken time out of my day but has in fact afforded me time to listen to audio books. I'd forgetten the pleasure of being read a book and my commute is greatly improved with their addition.First on my Borrowbox list was Folk by Zoe Gilbert.
I'm not sure what I expected when I chose this book, but what I got was a wonderful tapestry of voices, folklore and lives. Gilbert weaves vignettes together to create brief windows into the lives of the folk on the Island of Neverness.
Neverness is described as:
'On a remote and unforgiving island lies a village unlike any other. In Neverness a girl might be snatched by a water bull and dragged to his dark lair, and Jack Frost can take his chilling revenge on a jealous sister. A babe is born with a wing for an arm, and children ask their fortunes of an oracle ox.'
The book opens with the young boys of Neverness running through the gorse tunnels to retrieve arrows fired by the young girls. With them you enter a dark world and the tangled web of this island community,
Each chapter or set of chapters is someone on the island's story and each story echoes long told folklore which is very real for the people of Neverness. Whilst the chapter focuses on one individual and their tale the community still surrounds them making appearances depending on how their paths cross the characters in the chapter.
The language is beautifully poetic and there are some truly wonderful phrases in it which unfortunately, as I was driiving, I was not able to make notes of but they brought a smile to my face and sung to my soul.
If I have one criticism of the book it's that I didn't feel like it had a very satisfactory ending. It had one of those 'and life goes on' endings. The characters grew older and you got the sense that the cycle would continue with the younger folk of Neverness. A fair ending, however I was expecting all the stories to join together at some point and build to one conclusion. They did not.
This is a great book for anyone who loves folklore, social commentary, fairytale more literary style novels and I would heartily recommend loosing yourself in the world of Neverness for a while.
Have you read Folk by Zoe Gilbert? I'd love to know what you thought. Let me know in the comments below.