After reading and falling in love with Chime (my review) a couple of months ago. I very much wanted to read Franny Billingsley's other books but gave it some time so as not to be comparing too closely. I have just finished The Folk Keeper and enjoyed it very much. It is impossible not to draw some comparisons to Chime as they have many similarities, but The Folk Keeper is a different in many ways as well. It is also for more simple a story than Chime.
Summary (from Goodreads):
Corinna is a Folk Keeper. Her job is to keep the mysterious Folk who live beneath the ground at bay. But Corinna has a secret that even she doesn't fully comprehend, until she agrees to serve as Folk Keeper at Marblehaugh Park, a wealthy family's seaside manor. There her hidden powers burst into full force, and Corinna's life changes forever...
Corinna is a fascinating heroine. She has disguised herself as a boy so she might be a Folk Keeper. Everyone knows only boys can be successful Folk Keepers. It is her job to keep the mysterious Folk fed and content, to draw their anger so that they do not sour the milk, ruin the crops, or plague the livestock. It is a job she covets and protects for Corinna is hungry for power and has learned ways to gain it, to ensure it, and to make the most of it. "Here in the cellar I control the folk. Here, I 'm queen of the world." Corinna has the convictions and tendencies of a despot so it is a good thing there are no small countries in her path. They wouldn't stand a chance. It is also a good thing that she makes a friend, Finian, who forces her to take herself a bit less seriously and makes her see that it is possible to bend and compromise a bit. Corinna is certainly not always likeable but she is easy to sympathize with and root for.
The setting in this is not all that easy to pin down. Like Chime it contains elements of our own world and elements of a world that does not exist. The descriptions are vivid and the world really does come to life. I was a bit perplexed as to the nature and drive of the Folk and that was never really explained, but it matters little as that is not what the story is about.
Ultimately it is a story about finding your place in the world and owning it. It is also about the power of words, a power Billingsley wields with great effect. In this way it is very much like Chime, but is not as complex. The Folk Keeper is a book that I can see appealing to a younger audience than would be ready for Chime.