Our book reviews always give you something extra – a suggestion for what to drink when reading the book in question. Here Tania O’Donnell reads a very popular collection of folkloric short stories with a lovely bottle of The Cranborne Poacher.
If you know me, you’ll know that I am very keen on folklore, in particular folklore of the British isles, so when the book Folk came out, I sought out a copy immediately. Zoe Gilbert has created an absolutely beautiful community that is as flesh and blood real as it is whimsical and magical. Her characters come to us with a full backstory that makes you understand their motivations deeply, even when you can see the fairytale tropes given in each telling. A man with a wing instead of an arm, a boy seeking divine union with a prickly goddess, siblings fighting over the affections of mysterious men… we remember these stories in our collective unconscious and so there is a familiarity to them, but Ms. Gilbert writes them with such a strong sense of her own voice that these feel entirely fresh and new.
There is darkness here and yet it is darkness that attracts like woods at night smelling of the earth. It is a spell-casting book and you will have finished it in one sitting before you even realise where you are. Definitely woods you want to get lost in.
We love Badger Ales – they make some cracking beers. We tried sips of a selection of different ales to go with this glorious collection of short stories, but this ruby ale was the one that hit the spot. The sort of ye olde bucolic atmosphere that the book evokes goes really well with The Cranborne Poacher, a character that could easily live in the fictional world created by Zoe Gilbert in this book.
You might have noticed the Great British Beer Festival glass in the pic is from 2014 (the year that Zoe Gilbert won the Costa Short Story Award) – the festival is on again this year Aug 7-11. Book your ticket here.