Book Review: “Sinful Folk” by Ned Hayes
Sinful Folk Ned Hayes
Published: January 22, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: 4 / 5
In December of the year 1377, five children were burned to death in a suspicious house fire. A small band of villagers traveled 200 miles across England in midwinter to demand justice for their children’s deaths.
Sinful Folk is the story of this treacherous 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 secrets. But in this journey, she will find the strength to claim the promise of her past and find a new future. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and redemption.
I’m a sucker for books set in Medieval England (my degree is in British Medieval History, so it kind of make me feel like I’m putting my degree to use). This book sounded like it had it all–some sort of quest, a strong female (albeit disguised as a man) lead, and “triumph and redemption.”
And, mostly, this book delivers. I enjoyed reading about Mear and Hayes does a good job of meeting out her back story to the reader. I was entertained by her companions as a group (there are moments of actual comedy found in this group!), but as individuals some of them melded together for me.
As for historical accuracy, Hayes hit the nail on the head. There was nothing factual out of place with this book and I loved all the detail he weaves into the story. If you want to read a book about how real (that is, not royal) people lived in Medieval England, this is a book for you. He never shies away from the dirt and grime (literally and figuratively speaking) of the time period.
I did have a couple of quibbles, though. I “solved” the mystery of this book long before I think Hayes would have liked me to. I also had a hard time believing that Mear could go so long with these men in particular, but her village in general, without them discovering that she was not a man. I also wish the Jewish aspect of the book had been brought more to the forefront as it is a crucial aspect of the whole story.
But, even with those minor drawbacks, I still really enjoyed this book and would readily recommend it to anyone who reads historical fiction.