A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.
In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a suspicious house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice.
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 claim the promise of her past and create a new legacy. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and redemption.
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.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.40(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In a small village during the Middle Ages, a fire has killed five boys: Breton, Stephen, Matthew, Jonathon and Christian. Christian's mother Mear has been living as a mute man for the past decade, and the village has no idea all of the secrets she hides. The only proof she has of her past is a ring she finds her son was wearing around his neck when he died-- the ring of his father. Mear has been working for the blacksmith Salvius, who has been her friend since she and her son were found injured and desperate when Christian was but a baby. Salvius is blond, tall and handsome, and he has always taken on the role of a leader. He has also been the caretaker of the orphan boy Cole, who is known for his habits of thieving and lying. The fire occurred in the home of Benedict the weaver, whose son Stephen was also killed. Some, like Breton's father Tom, wish to point to Benedict and his Jewish wife Sophia as the ones who set the fire. Mear's good friend Liam bravely attempted to save their boys, including his own son Jonathon. Liam is a large, red-headed "layabout" woodsman, and he is the one person who can always make Mear laugh. Counter to that is the carpenter Geoff-- the dark, brooding father of Matthew. Mear has always found Geoff somewhat distasteful. There are rumors that Geoff was molested by his father when he was a boy, and that maybe he has his father's predilections. After the fire, these despondent parents embark on a journey to the king, along with Hob the alderman, seeking justice for their children. During the trip, dangers abound and secrets are uncovered. We learn that Mear used to have another friend, a woman by the name of Nell. Nell took Mear in after she was brought to the village, and offered her sanctuary. But it seems some in the village may have viewed Nell as something of a witch, and she was killed some years before (and mystery surrounds her death). After all, in villages where everyone knows everyone's business, and speculates on what they don't know, people can be bitter and backbiting. I loved this story. The characters drew me in, and the author has such a talent for putting emotion into visual pictures, to give them real substance. The author pulled me into a tragic and engaging story, with all the sights, smells and emotions of the characters' world. It had a Gothic feel to it, and in my mind as I saw them on their journey, I envisioned a dark and desolate snow-covered woods, like something out of the north of Game of Thrones. I heard the creak of the wagon wheels and felt the cold. I heard the silence of no birds or insects making themselves known. The characters bicker and argue on their dangerous trek, but they also fight for and care for one another. My final word: This was my kind of book. It is a clever, interesting and touching story inspired by history, and the paranoia and persecution that surrounded those of the Jewish faith (stories were rampant that the Jewish would drink the blood of Christian children, and there are accounts of local Jews being blamed for things like fires). This story is all about facing your past. Restrained and yet absorbing, this story may be dark and barren, but it isn't bereft of hope. Don't fear. Take Mear's hand, and she'll lead you down the path of your past, through the flames, and will bring you safely to the other side-- from the darkness of your past and into the brilliance of your future.
This story was inspired by true events and draws on real historical figures, such as Edward the Black Prince, son of the English King Edward III, but relies heavily on Everyman Tales and Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to shape the setting and plot. The literary techniques employed in this story are impressive, but the story itself didn't grab me and pull me into the book. There's a strong wishy-washy love angle with an interesting twist at the end. The narrative meanders back and forth in time, often reiterating back-story to move the plot forward. The dull repetition is broken sporadically by shocking events - some inspired by the factual while others are based on stories passed around in the 14th-century (i.e. the Everyman Tales and The Canterbury Tales). I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.