The Crow Folk by Mark Stay
For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes this delightful novel of war, mystery and a little bit of magic...
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.
Fall in love with the extraordinary world of Faye Bright - it's Maisie Dobbs meets The Magicians.
Charming, unputdownable and wickedly funny, Mark Stay’s The Crow Folk is a devilishly clever delight from start to finish.
The story revolves around our gobby heroine Faye Bright, and starts with her opening the pages of her mother’s book of spells ‘Wynter’s book of Rituals’ and as soon as she issues the words ‘Blinkin’ flip mother’, I was sucked into Mark Stay’s world of rural witchery, shambling scarecrows and daft silly buggers pretending that they were in the army with broomsticks for guns.
The story is set in the midst of World War 2 in the idyllic Kentish village of Woodsville, where peculiar, odd and witchy is standard operating procedure. Most of the men have gone off to fight that particularly nasty bloke, Mr Hitler and his marauding army, leaving behind those who are not eligible to fight and the wives and mothers. However, the most dangerous thing in Woodsville are the church bells and a stray light that will be greeted by the bellow of ‘put that light out’ from the local ARP warden Mr Paine.
However, not everything is as it seems in Woodsville, there are witches in the form of Philomena Teach and Charlotte Southill (who sleeps in the nuddy, with a frog on her tummy) and there are also some strange happenings in the form of ‘The Crow Folk’ a group of scarecrows come to life, lead by the mysterious Pumpkinhead.
The Crow folk is a gloriously fun book, that has that warm cosiness of a BBC Sunday night adaptation. Every page is a delight and I have to say I just fell in love with this book, devouring it in a matter of days.
More than that, it is full to the brim of quirky and unforgettable characters. Each one vibrant and individual, from Faye herself, to even the character with the least page time, Herbert. Doris the milk woman’s son, and every one in between.
Mark Stay writes some gloriously comedic scenes that had me laughing out loud throughout. In all honesty, I couldn’t pick a favourite moment because all the book was a favourite moment. I veritably devoured this book, barely coming up for air until I had finished it. It was one of those books where ‘one more chapter’ meant that I was still sat there an hour later issuing the same statement I had made previously.
So, if you want some good witchy fun, with a mouthy main character, who might also be a witch, pick up The Crow Folk. It’s pure unadulterated fun that is full of brilliantly realised characters and a story that drags you along like a runaway carriage from the brewery pulled by a horse scared of spitfires.
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