Sinuous and unsettling, dark and magical, Folk is a breathtaking collection of stories exploring the remote, rocky island of Neverness and it's singular inhabitants. For fans of Angela Carter, Sarah Perry and Daisy Johnson
Come back now, up the rocks that loom above the shore, to where the men and women of Neverness wait with their torches. The sky above their heads is showing the first stars. The door of the day is nearly shut, but this is the hinge of the year itself. Days are shrinking, nights spreading
On a remote and unforgiving island lies a village unlike any other. Here in Neverness a girl might be snatched by the waterbull 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 beliefs and rituals of the islanders conjure their own dark spirits, flying with the red kites at night or stalking lustful boys through the gorse mazes. While the islanders live out their own tales, magic always lurks, blighting and blessing lives in equal measure.
Folk is a piece of exquisite writing in which stories interweave over the course of one generation of islanders. The folklore of Neverness is as tangible as its rocky shore, its deep woods and its gorse-prickled headland. In this world remote from our time and place, the tales the islanders tell in the village bard house come to life around them, twisting fates and changing lives.
About the Author
Zoe Gilbert is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in anthology and journals in the UK and internationally. She has taken part in writing projects in China and South Korea for the British Council, and she is completing a PhD on folk tales in contemporary fiction. The co-founder of London Lit Lab, which provides writing courses and mentoring for writers, she lives on the coast in Kent.
"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"
"Dazzling and unsettling, much like the best and darkest of fairy tales"
Times Literary Supplement