A compelling tale of witchcraft, demons and um…bellringing, The Crow Folk is the latest novel from author Mark Stay and the first in The Witches of Woodville series.
Set in 1940s rural Kent, The Crow Folk tells the story of 17 year old Faye Bright who lives with her father following Her mother’s death when Faye was just a little girl. Faye has always felt different and when she discovers a diary belonging to her mother packed full of rituals and spells, she soon discovers why. But that’s not all. The Crow Folk have arrived in the village and their magic is threatening the locals – it’s up to Faye with the help of her mum’s book to try and put a stop to the scarecrows before it’s too late.
Mark Stay is no stranger to fantasy novels (check out my review for The End of Magic here) but The Crow Folk is his best work yet. This is an incredibly compelling read and Stay’s slick writing immediately transports the reader into this world of strange magic. But The Crow Folk isn’t a horror story, although you’ll never see Worzel Gummidge in the same light ever again. It’s in fact an absorbing tale of loss and grief, with just the right amount of creepiness thrown in. The book is incredibly witty, therefore drawing comparisons to Terry Pratchett and Stay cleverly combines humour and suspense to create a magical read that’s packed full of charm and warmth.
The world that Stay has created is full of familiar characters (particularly if you live in a small village) and he’s done a fine job of portraying small-town England during the Second World War, with a nod to Dad’s Army with Faye’s role as a volunteer for ARP patrol (“Put that light out!”). The villagers are all believable in their portrayal and Faye is a great central character; instantly likeable, smart, strong and determined, and she’s well supported by her friend, Bertie and her endearing father. Likewise villagers Charlotte and Mrs Teach are strong characters and intriguing enough to keep you turning the the page.
The Crow Folk is an enchanting and incentive story which really captures the imagination and is the escapism we all read right now. It’s a strong start to The Witches of Woodville series and sets the second book up perfectly – it can’t come soon enough!
The Crow Folk is out now.