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G B Ralph, Author

The Crow Folk

The Crow Folk (The Witches of Woodville 1) by Mark Stay. Photo of book cover on Kindle at the beach.

I adored The Crow Folk. Funny, spooky, witchy, and absolutely charming – I was captivated from start to finish.

Set in a small Kent village populated with a charismatic cast of characters, Faye Bright stumbles across her late mother’s diary:

‘Here were rituals, magic, monsters, demons and, for some reason, a recipe for jam roly-poly.’

The Crow Folk, Mark Stay

Meanwhile, a mysterious magic menaces their community, but nobody seems too concerned about it – with WWII front of everyone’s minds they’re dismissive of a little strangeness – and so it’s up to Faye to sort things out.

As chronicled by parish council secretary and local author of some little renown, Mr Mark Stay’s introduction to The Witches of Woodville series was so much fun, capturing the joy and otherworldliness of magic, while grounded in the mundanity of everyday village life. Mark’s insightful observations picked up the villager’s many quirks and it all felt so familiar and real.

Described as ‘cosy fantasy’ on The Bestseller Experiment podcast, I think this describes The Crow Folk perfectly, and it’s just what I needed right now – to escape to a different time with a little bit of magic.

A few other things I loved about The Crow Folk were the gorgeous cover, Mark’s many inventive swear word alternatives (e.g. blinkin’ flip, bloody Nora, buggeration, and bleedin’ ‘eck, to name a few), and how I couldn’t help being reminded of the joy of reading Diana Wynne Jones.

Mark Stay spins a great yarn which I think would delight adults and children alike. I was there for the ride and can’t wait for The Witches of Woodville #2!

For more information or to grab a copy, visit the Woodville Parish Council website or Mark Stay’s website.

The Crow Folk online book launch party

I attended the online book launch party, presented by author Mark Stay, with comedian and author Caimh McDonnell acting as Master of Ceremonies. The dress code for the event was 1940s Home Front, but Caimh did as he pleased and came dressed as the book’s villain. One of the many joys of watching the livestream was seeing Caimh’s struggle with his scarecrow hat as it went everywhere but the top of his head.

The launch included discussions on releasing a book during Covid-19 lockdown, a live segment on BBC Radio Kent with Dominic King, Mark’s publishing history, a Q&A session with the audience, a book and chocolate giveaway, appearances by Mark’s family, and finally a singalong with author Ian W Sainsbury on the piano, featuring wartime hits Run Rabbit Run, Knees Up Mother Brown, and We’ll Meet Again.

One comment Mark made which really stuck out to me during the livestream related to incorporating magic into an otherwise real world:

‘Like boiling a frog, you introduce the magic slowly and people can believe in it.’

Mark Stay (from the online book launch of The Crow Folk)

The Crow Folk’s book launch was an action-packed hour and I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a watch. You can catch a recording of the livestream on YouTube.

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