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.
I’ve read medieval mysteries characterized as medieval noir, but Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes is as noir as it gets. The medieval villagers we meet in this novel have dark secrets, and a number of them have either committed terrible deeds, or stood by without protest while they were perpetrated. Many of the nobility who think of themselves as superior are no better. Characters who have principles are seen as simple and childlike. Christianity is not the faith of a loving God, but one that justifies acts of cruelty and intolerance. Welcome to a 14th century England where chivalry is very nearly dead, and hearts that are pure are likely to be pureed.
Many contemporary readers prefer dark fiction because they consider it more realistic. I am not one of them, but I do appreciate historical fiction that is well-written by a writer who has done some homework about the period. He certainly knows the work of Geoffrey Chaucer whose Canterbury Tales is the most iconic piece of literature associated with this era.
The author’s note “About Edward the Black Prince” interested me because The Black Prince looms large in the back story of the protagonist, Mear. Ned Hayes tells us that the motto of the Black Prince “Houmout” is mysterious, and that there is no scholarly agreement about its meaning. I have the tendency to run searches about historical issues in the books I read because I was a history major as an undergraduate. That’s why I wanted to see whether there was any consensus about Houmout. Indeed there was one. Everywhere I looked Houmout was said to be from Old Flemish or Low German, and that it meant courage or honor. There may be scholars who see Houmout differently, but I didn’t find any mention of such a disagreement in the online sources that I could freely access. The speculation in Hayes' note is interesting, but it involves a major plot spoiler. So I will not discuss it further here.
The mystery of the four dead youths of this village who were burned alive is at the center of the narrative. Surprising developments arise during the process of discovering the truth about this awful crime. The truth about various characters changes over the course of the novel as their secrets are uncovered. I thought that the protagonist had layers of complexity while still being sympathetic. I wanted her to triumph against all the obstacles in her path, and I liked the bittersweet ending.
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Booknote Interview with Ned Hayes
About the AuthorNed 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 http://nednote.com/ . You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Booklikes, YouTube, Google+, and Goodreads.
Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Novel Review
Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, October 23
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Monday, October 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Back Porchervations
Thursday, October 30
Interview at Back Porchervations
Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 3
Interview at Triclinium
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 5
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt
Thursday, November 6
Review at bookramblings
Saturday, November 8
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, November 10
Review at Book Babe
Tuesday, November 11
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 18
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Beth's Book Reviews
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Bookworm Babblings
Thursday, November 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, November 21
Review at Library Educated
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