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Folk by [Zoe Gilbert]
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Folk Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 110 ratings

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Product description

Book Description

A captivating, magical and haunting debut novel of breathtaking imagination, from the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


I was thoroughly absorbed. Zoe Gilbert's invented folk-world is sensuous and dangerous and thick with magic * Tessa Hadley, author of The Past * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B075D9CXSK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (8 February 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1890 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 181 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
110 global ratings

Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 18 June 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short stories that are fantastically surreal
By MJ on 18 June 2018
This collection by Zoe Gilbert is set in the island village of Neverness and consists of 15 short stories. All the stories are interlinked by virtue of being set in the same village and dealing with the various residents who form the main characters in some stories and part of the background in others. There is a map (always an added bonus) at the beginning of the book that shows the layout of the entire village and helps to figure out where these quickly familiar characters live in relation to each other and the major landmarks around them.

Neverness is a village where magic is inherently woven into the fabric of life and is thus considered a normal everyday thing. For example, there is a boy born with a wing instead of an arm and everyone else in this village treats it as an irksome handicap rather than fainting with the shock of witnessing a bird-human hybrid. As if continuing the connection of the Russian backdrop from the cover, there is an element of Russian folktale-like underlying current of tragedy in almost every story. Also, it feels as if winter is always just around the corner in this isolated little island. As a sort of counter-point to the atmosphere and their isolation, the people come across as stalwart and a little devoid of humour, with a well-spring of patience and burning passions lurking underneath the surface. Even their celebrations, like the one at every New Year’s Eve, are more along the lines of a blood-thirsty sport with the promise of some form of sexual gratification at the end. When you realize that the sport is being played by teenagers, it takes on another layer of unreality and other-worldliness.

The stories are dark and solemn, talking about the lives lived and lost in a small community. The stories are filled with heartbreak, aching loss, nostalgia, loneliness and a kernel of uplifting hope. These are stories about families – sisters and mothers and fathers and sons. It’s a story of friends who help another when they get in over their heads. It is about superstitions coming to life. There are stories about coming of age in different ways. There are stories of sheer brutality and even murder. There are stories about how a small community will turn its face away from an ugly truth rather than rock the boat.

In short, these stories are not for the faint hearted, or ones who would like a conventional fairytale. As the stories progress, many passing references unwind into full-fledged stories of their own, opening up the lives of the villagers as if to a stranger newly settled come to town. One story, where a stranger does come to town, was darkly funny with a nod to the oft-repeated and very truthful adage ‘be careful what you wish for’.

The first and last stories are like bookends, as they complete a cycle. The characters who began as teenagers in the first are now adults with young ones of their own in the last tale. Some of them have survived the transition, both physically and spiritually better than others, while some are still struggling. By the end of the book, the reader knows them as well as the author knows them. There are hidden depths to each tale that are not too difficult to discern and as such are a pleasure to read again and again.

The author’s prose is interlaced with metaphors that combine nature and everyday life into a sentence that is almost poetic in its essence. For instance, ‘The door of the day is nearly shut, but it is the hinge of the year itself’ when describing the evening at the turn of the year. Her imagination has a uniqueness that is as refreshing as it is disturbing. Even the title of the book, ‘Folk’, is understated in its simplicity and elegance. It manages to convey just the right amount of information and intrigue to the reader.

For lovers of the fantasy and short story genre, this first time offering by Zoe Gilbert is a gift that will be enjoyed for years to come.
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Reviewed in India on 7 January 2019
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Reviewed in India on 22 February 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books of 2018
By The Helly Blog on 22 February 2018
According to me, Folk is one of the best novels of 2018.

Why Do I Rate Folk 5 stars?

I have read short stories. I have read dystopian and surrealistic novels. But I hadn't imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be visiting Neverness, a land full of magical beings, cultural traditions and inviting tales that keep you wondering when will you escape from this whirlpool of emotions and ecstasy it makes you feel! Folk by Gilbert was one of my top ten anticipated releases of February and it didn't disappoint me. I know that I am in love with the land of Neverness and especially the boy called Crab - the first character I was introduced to. Folk is not a perfect novel, however, it is extremely different from everything that I had been reading and it managed to break away from the conventional norms of storytelling. Gilbert has her own style which I absolutely loved and I definitely have become a huge fan of her! Having said that, if any of my friend or follower happens to meet her : Please get me a signed copy! I'll happily pay for it ( though I am broke).

What to expect from Folk?

Allow the magnificent cover to lure you into falling in love even as you enter the world of Neverness. Do not go about reading the book with a normal approach. You need to be prepared to BELIEVE and ACCEPT a lot of things that may feel as absurd to you, but at the end of the day the author has created her own magical and often haunting world and to have a peek inside felt amazing, atleast to me! So get ready and grab a copy of this piece of magic here . Rich and thick with a scent of magical realism, Folk is surely the best pick for anyone who loves to travel via books. Folk is the right book for you especially is you love Classical Mythological tales.
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5 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in India on 6 March 2018

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Jane Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most wonderful books I've read in a long time (and I ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2018
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Mobius Engine
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2020
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3.0 out of 5 stars Linked short stories
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 September 2021
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A. Kevill
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and enthralling
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 June 2019
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Yvonne R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 November 2018
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About the author

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Zoe Gilbert is a fiction writer based on the coast of Kent, UK. She is the author of two novels: Folk (Bloomsbury, 2018), which was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and adapted for BBC Radio; and Mischief Acts (Bloomsbury, 2022). She is also the co-editor with Lily Dunn of the recovery anthology, A Wild and Precious Life (Unbound, 2021). Her short stories have been published in anthologies and journals around the world, and have won prizes including the Costa Short Story Award 2014. She teaches creative writing at London Lit Lab and is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Suffolk English department. Her fiction is inspired by folklore, myth, nature, local landscapes and the history of ideas. She is currently working on her third novel.