Good Morrow Bookworms,
Today we’re heading back to a time before indoor plumbing, personal hygiene, and standardized spelling. The Mydle Ayges! (That’s probably how Chaucer would have spelled it. Dude was fond of random “y”s.) *I received a complimentary copy of Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes for review consideration from TLC Book Tours. May I be struck down with bubonic plague if the following review contains anything but my honest opinion.*
Sinful Folk starts on a somber note. It’s 1377 in a small village in England when one night four children are burned to death in a fire under some rather suspicious circumstances. One of the children belongs to Mear, the village mute who works for the blacksmith. Everyone in the village things Mear is a man, because, well, when everybody is filthy and wearing robes, it’s easy to hide your lady-ness. She’s not mute either, but it’s easier to pretend that she is than risk revealing her life story (which is really quite juicy and scandalous.)
Mear sets out with a delegation from the village including the fathers of the other fallen boys. They’re on a quest to take their poor children’s bodies to London in order to receive the King’s justice for their loss. Lemme take a minute to school you on the whole serf situation, k? It’s illegal for these normal everyday folks to take to the road without permission (and, apparently, a tunic) from their liege lord. It’s also crazy dangerous. There are bandits all up in those forests and there’s always the PLAGUE to contend with. Oh, and you better not be Jewish, because you might get burned at the stake. Makes you want to load a cart full of charred child corpses and take a hike, right? Bring out your dead!
I really dug this book, guys. I love when historical fiction doesn’t shy away from dirty details, and the Middle Ages were so friggin grim. To add to the intrigue, this book is loosely based in historical FACT. The charred child corpses traipsing through the snow TOTALLY HAPPENED. Plus, there were Chaucer references all over the place, and it was the first time I found it useful to have readThe Canterbury Tales in Middle English. (Thanks, college!) If you enjoy books like The Pillars of the Earth (review), its sequel World Without End, or the phenomenal Pope Joan (review), you need to pick up Sinful Folk. Trust me on this one. If you still don’t believe me (even under penalty of plague) feel free to check out the other stops on the tour.