Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes
Publication Date: January 22, 2014
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Medieval
Source: This book was given to me by the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.
In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.
Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.
The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.
My Review: In this dark novel, five children are burned to death in what may have been a suspicious house fire. Angry village fathers roam England demanding justice for those five children. Mear, the main protagonist and mother of one of the burned children, decides to go on a journey to find the truth of what happened in that fire. As she goes on her journey she finds that is she is also embarking on a quest of redemption and a new beginning.
Believing that her lover would come back for her, Mear, a former nun, escaped the convent and raised their son as a mute man in an isolated village. When her son dies, she like everyone wants justice. As she goes on the journey with other travelers, she experiences the emotional pain of losing her son, especially when one of them is the same age as her son. She experiences hardships, terror, and trials, but she also experiences triumphs and healing.
I found this novel to be fascinating. While it is dark - for the novel discusses heavy topics like starvation, hostility to the Jews, and death, it is also shows a silver lining like friendship. One of the things I liked about this book was that Edward, The Black Prince, plays a big role in this book. I didn’t know much about The Black Prince, but the scenes I loved were the scenes that he was involved in.
Another thing that I liked about the book was that it gives flashbacks to the main character. The book is constantly unfolding many layers to Mear’s past that is important to the book. By this we feel like we are getting to know the main character more. Mear is just as complex as the novel, but eventually we see them both interweave together like threads into a single picture.
Overall this book is about justice, friendship, hope and redemption. The setting is beautiful and the plot is well-developed. The characters are human. Together we experience Mear's hardships, pain, trials, and triumphs. I recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction, thrillers, and mystery. I also recommend this to anyone who loves to read about the Dark Ages and The Black Prince, who is a historical famous figure in British history. This book is also great for people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Overall, this is a moving, well-written, emotional book that will linger even after you read the last word.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Praise for Sinful Folk:
In December of 1377, five children are burned in a suspicious house fire. Awash in paranoia and prejudice, the fathers suspect it is the work of Jews and set out to seek justice from the king, loading the charred bodies of their boys onto a cart. Unbeknownst to them, among them is a woman, Mear, who has been hiding out in the town for the past 10 years posing as a mute man. It is a treacherous journey, for their rations are spare and the weather is brutal. And always, they are haunted by the question, Why were their boys in Benedict the weaver’s house, and who would do this to them? Mear, ever resourceful, not only watches for clues to unravel the mystery but also provides invaluable aid in finding their way, for she has traveled this way before and is the only literate one among them. The reason for her false identity is slowly revealed as the villagers are chased by bandits and must overcome numerous obstacles, hunger and fear among them. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes’ novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist *Starred Review*
“A pilgrim tale worthy of Chaucer, evocative, compelling and peopled with unforgettable characters artfully delivered by a master storyteller.” – Brenda Rickman Vantrease, bestselling author of The Illuminator and The Mercy Seller
“Brilliant, insightful, unflinching and wise. This spellbinding mystery will keep readers turning pages until the last sentence. Remarkable.” – Ella March Chase, bestselling author of The Virgin Queen’s Daughter and Three Maids for a Crown
“Suspenseful, page-turning mystery of a mother pursuing the truth… Every reader will come to love the brave and intrepid Mear, a most memorable character in a most memorable story.” – Jim Heynen, award-winning author of The Fall of Alice K.
“Sinful Folk is a work of art. Miriam’s story is a raw and brutal and passionate tale, but her story touches the reader because it’s a timeless story – a wonderful portrayal of medieval life. Highly recommended.” – Kathryn Le Veque, bestselling author of The Dark Lord and The Warrior Poet
“A suspenseful and mesmerizing tale full of rich and vital characters. Ned Hayes crafts a narrative that shows a devotion to craft in each word.” – Renée Miller, editor of On Fiction and author of In the Bones
Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover)
Booknote Interview with Ned Hayes:
About the Author:
Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.
Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.
Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.
For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednote.com.