Monday, August 25, 2014

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes


A terrible loss. A desperate journey.
A mother seeks the truth.

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.

Paperback, First, 400 pages
Published January 22nd 2014 by Campanile Books (first published March 20th 2012)
ISBN  0985239301 (ISBN13: 9780985239305) 

About the Author
the author talks about himself on Goodreads

Ned Hayes is a voracious reader (and writer) from Olympia Washington.

I especially enjoy historical fiction like Philippa Gregory, Anita Diamant and Hilary Mantel, as well as supernatural historical fiction from Susanne Clarke and Tim Powers, along with the hilarious (and disturbing) works of Danny Marks. But I've also been known to read -- and teach -- literary fiction such as Annie Dillard, Jorge Borges and Michael Chabon.

My new novel is the best-selling SINFUL FOLK, a novel set in the 14th century. The book cover for SINFUL FOLK and a series of lovely internal illustrations have been created by the marvelous New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure.

SINFUL FOLK was a semi-finalist in the "2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel" contest, and I'm excited to have it appear in January 2014 from Campanile Books.

An early version of the two first chapters of my new novel SINFUL FOLK are now available here on GoodReads, as a free download.

I've also written Coeur d'Alene Waters -- a Pacific Northwest novel set in northern Idaho. More about this novel at Coeur d'Alene

Check out the author's page
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My Thoughts
Pray for us, we sinful folk unstable…
My child is dead within these two weeks,
Soon after that, we went out of this town…
Up I rose, with many a tear trickling on my cheeks

-- Geoffrey Chaucer,
The Canterbury Tales
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.

The talk flickered back and forth from mouth to mouth. They were jackdaws fighting over a bit of flesh, ripping this grisly matter back and forth until nothing of sense was left.
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.
I am pierced to the root then, all of my veins bathed in a liquor of terror.
Hob’s absence is like a tooth missing-- everyone feels the wound, but no one knows how to fill the gap.
The past puts the bit in Tom’s mouth and rides him like a demon. His face is thick with rage.
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. 

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Sunday, July 27th: You’ve GOTTA Read This!
Monday, August 4th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book
Tuesday, August 5th: Words for Worms
Wednesday, August 6th: What She Read
Thursday, August 7th: M. Denise C.
Monday, August 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, August 13th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 14th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 18th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, August 19th: nightly reading
Wednesday, August 20th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, August 21st: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, August 25th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 27th: BoundbyWords
Thursday, August 28th: Passages to the Past
Friday, August 29th: West Metro Mommy
TBD: Kimberly’s Bookshelf

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.

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:



I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I've read so many fantastic reviews of this book including yours - I just cannot wait to read it myself!

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.