Review- The Crow Folk by Mark Stay

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 . . .

Review

One of the greatest joys of reading is how it transports you from the real world into one full of imagination and drama. The best fiction treats the reader to hours of captivating diversions. a release from the life we are living. Both a form of comfort and the best entertainment I know.

The Crow Folk by Mark Stay takes the best elements of different genres, historical, fantasy, coming of age and war stories and creates from them a story that feels both magical and adventurous.

Telling the tale of Faye Bright, who thinks she is an ordinary young lady, until she stumbles across her late mum’s diary, full of spells and a recipe for Jam Rolly Polly! From this point on she goes on a journey of self discovery and battles to save her village from the rather scary Crow Folk.

What I loved about this novel was the way the writer injects magic into his story. Something I miss as an adult reader, is a dam good adventure where realism is emboldened with the fantastical and the magical, creating a story that excites my imagination. In The Crow Folk the writer recreated that sense of wonder I had as a child reading books like C S Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Like that classic, it gives us a glimpse into the past, using themes of good an evil, ranged against each other, in a battle for freedom. I found within it’s pages that same sense of wonder I found last year in the very wonderful Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.

Mark Stay creates and grounds his story in the real world of World War two Britain, taking the battles of the front and reimaging them in a tale of witchcraft in a small country village. The enemy are the Crow Folk and the villagers are the army raged against them. But he never loses sight of what makes a story work, the ability to be so enagaged by all the elements of the story that the world outside the pages of the book simply drift away. Even as adults we need a break from reality, the chance to escape the bounds of this strange world we are caught in and this is what he delivers.

The characters are fantastic, besides Faye we have an eclectic bunch of villagers a few witches and best of all the heroine herself. Indomitable, brave and with just the right levels of self doubt, she’s grows over the course of the story and the writer adds some touching reflections on the loss of her mother and how it shapes the character we meet. It would have been easier to simply make her a one dimensional, all gun-ho adventure girl, but her depth of character generated for me a more nuanced reaction. Your imagination grips the rip roaring tale of adventure, while your heart swells with love because of the warmth of the relationship between father and daughter, Faye and Bertie and the villages resident witches. I was charmed by the warmth of the writing and the writers obvious love for his tale.

I would recommend this book to so many people. Adults who loved Miss Benson’s Beetle and fans of Terry Pratchetts clever use of character and fantasy.

You can purchase your copy from Amazon and Waterstones, or why not buy it from your nearest Indie Bookshop?

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.

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