As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…
Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook.
And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities.
Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum’s words, her trusty bicycle, the grudging help of two bickering old ladies, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected.
For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes this delightful novel of war, mystery and a little bit of magic…
I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Crow Folk today. This is a wonderful story with a courageous heroine that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Crow Folk is partly a coming-of-age story, although the changes that Faye is experiencing aren’t those of your regular teenager as she discovers that she has a capacity for magic, something she has inherited from the mother she lost at the age of 4. It’s clear that her life has been difficult in this respect – she feels understandably cheated, and as a young woman who is trying to find her path through life, she lacks a female role model that she can turn to for guidance. It adds a certain poignancy to the story, although her father Terrance is a great character and I love the father-daughter bond that shines through their light-hearted bickering.
Faye is a fantastic character – one that I warmed to instantly and that I think will appeal to many. She is different to those around her, and she knows this without really understanding what it is that sets her apart, initially at least. The advice she’s given is to keep those differences to herself, lest others find her odd, weird, a pariah. It’s advice that’s well meant, and yet how exhausting would it be to feel the need to pretend to be something that you’re not all the time? Faye chooses to ignore this advice for the most part, and I think that this is a situation that many can relate to for various reasons. I feel that there is a message of inclusivity for all in the novel which encourages everyone to accept the differences between us.
The Crow Folk is set against the backdrop of World War II and the impact of this is brilliantly captured throughout the narrative. The residents of Woodville have outwardly chipper attitudes – there’s a real sense of carry on and make do despite the worries they’re facing – but the impact of the War can also be seen in more tangible ways with rationing, night-time blackouts, street signs removed to confuse the enemy in the event of an invasion, and their young men away from home. And of course, with the men away, the women are called upon to take on some of their duties, although only to a certain extent, highlighted through Faye’s attempts to join the Local Defence Volunteers – which later became known as the Home Guard – but isn’t permitted to simply because she is female, despite being perfectly able.
It’s a familiar battle as Faye experiences the unfairness of being told that she’s only capable of so much due to her gender, and her frustration at the injustice is palpable. There are few expectations of Faye beyond marriage and children, but for her it isn’t enough. She’s a character that has no desire to conform to society’s expectations, and she wants nothing more than to make her own choices, even if she doesn’t know quite what it is that she wants to choose just yet. She’s a force to be reckoned with, magic or no, but her father is happy to let her make her own decisions, accepting that she is her mother’s daughter.
This is a story that I was very happy to get lost in. It has plenty of magic and mayhem as the Crow Folk, led by the aptly named Pumpkinhead, try to take over the village. Faye is eager to help, and while she’s bright and brave she is also a little naïve and perhaps does make things worse despite her good intentions. That said, she’s such an endearing character that I couldn’t help but cheer her on throughout as she at least tries to do something about this threat to their way of life. This is the first in a planned trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what Faye gets up to next.
The Crow Folk was published on 4 February by Simon & Schuster and is available now in paperback, digital, and audio. Both a coming-of-age fantasy and an historical drama, it’s a novel that I recommend to readers young and old alike.
About the Author
Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.
Make sure you check out the other wonderful bloggers taking part in the tour: