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Sinful Folk

(Sinful Folk #(1-6) Complete)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  150 reviews
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 l
Paperback, First, 398 pages
Published January 23rd 2014 by Campanile Books (first published November 26th 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  523 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
First I would like to thank my lucky stars that I am living now and not in the middle ages. What a horribly harsh time that was, a time that is formidably related in this novel. Starvation, oftentimes a matter of fate, capricious weather, death always a minute away. I was totally sucked into the atmosphere of this novel and emotionally involved in the fate of many of these characters, most of all Mear.

The author took a short piece of historical information, noted in the beginning of the novel an
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Author Ned Hayes was entirely unfamiliar to me when Sinful Folk arrived in my mailbox and I'll be honest, I didn't really know what to expect from the book when I cracked it open. All I know for certain is that I was pretty ticked by the time I finished chapter eight.

Now before you jump down my throat, realize context is everything. I began reading Sinful Folk in August when I'd landed an excerpt of the novel in nationwide
(view spoiler)

Barely a day passes without Mr. Hayes plugging his book over on Booklikes. Helicopter author!
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
All it took for me to spark my interest, was the historical note in the beginning of the book. It was hard to put this book down; I wanted to uncover the mystery behind these boys dying in a fire and why this women is pretending to be a man, hiding her identity from everyone in this medieval village. The characters in the book set out on a journey to find the truth; the path they take reveals more of the mystery with every page you turn.
It is evident that the author has a tremendous interest an
Ericka Seidemann
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Set in medieval England, Sinful Folk follows Mear, a nun named Miriam disguised as a mute, old man. In Mear’s small village, five boys burned to death in a house fire, including Mear’s son, Christian. The fire was not an accident. The door was roped shut and the murderer has not been discovered. Mear and some village men decide to make the long trek to London to demand justice for their deaths, hauling the boys’ dead bodies in a cart behind them. Mear is going on the journey to discover her son’ ...more
Christine PNW
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book from an author. It was a no-strings attached sort of a thing, and there was no agreement that I would review this book at all as a part of the giveaway. In addition, I was very excited about the release of this book because the author is someone I follow here on Booklikes, so I had read various excerpts from the book before getting my hands on it (digital hands, really) and it looked fantastic.

I was not disappointed.

I'm going to witter on for a bit ab
Jenny Q
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a woman named Miriam, who has been living as a mute man, raising her child in a remote village after fleeing a monastery and a mysterious pursuant. We meet Mear (as she's being called by her fellow villagers) as an awful fire consumes the village weaver's home with five of the village's young boys inside, one of them Mear's own beloved son, Christian. The fire could have been the result of an accident--after all, these things happen. But the village soon discovers that someo ...more
Kathryn Veque
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love it when fiction and non-fiction come together.

I was asked to read an ARC copy of this novel and review it, which I was happy to do. This isn't your ordinary Medieval novel... SINFUL FOLK is one of the most original novels I have ever read. The storyline was unlike anything I'd ever seen before and to find out it was based on real events was truly amazing. The novel is about children dying in a mysterious fire back in the Middle Ages and how the villagers seek justice for the crime. The m
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sinful Folk takes place in the fourteenth century. It is well researched and full of suspense.

Why were five boys coming together late at night and why were they trapped in a fiery tomb
and who trapped them? Their loved ones, including the intriquing character of Mear, a woman disquised as
a male, demand answers and justice. So they impart on a perilous winter journey to take the burned bodies
of the five boys to the king in London where truths will be revealed and justice served.

Ned Hayes is an
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2015-reads
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

Wow, what a great historical mystery. Hayes really captured the time period, and I liked his twist on the (view spoiler)

This book needs more exposure.
In December 1377 in the isolated village of Duns, five boys are killed in an arson attack. The grieving villagers set out on a perilous journey to bring the bodies to the king in London in search of justice. Mear (or Miriam) insists on travelling with the group for one of the dead boys was her son but no one knows she is a woman as she has been pretending to be a man for the entire time she’s lived in the village in a mystery that is revealed over the course of her journey.

Sinful Folk is based a
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting when I started reading Sinful Folk, but I don't think this was it. This novel is unique in many ways, and each character has deeply hidden secrets that only slowly and partially are revealed.

The author has based this story on two seemingly insignificant tidbits of historical fact.

1) In 1377, in the village of Duns, 5 boys were burned to death in a house fire. The parents decided to travel to London in order to present the boys bodies to the king and d
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We starve. First is a ripping agony of hunger in our gut, a faintness and a shadow in the eyes. Then there is emptiness entire. Now our bellies seem to float away, flat and empty as a bag. A weariness is on me, one I cannot shake. I go to sleep weary and wake up weary. Rest does not bring me strength.

We are saved. We will not starve this day.

I vow to never complain about my first-world problems least not until I forget about this book and before I start my next medieval book. The prot
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
**Disclaimer: The author provided a free ARC of this book for review purposes.

While I expected “Sinful Folk” a story steeped in history and detailed description, to be a slow read, it sucked me in from the first page and held me until the very end. This story takes you way back to the middle ages, and the author shows enviable writing skill in keeping the pace fast-moving and engaging. The protagonist, Mear, is fascinating and Hayes skillfully plots a suspenseful and mesmerizing tale full of ric
Sara Dehaan
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A peasant woman from the Middle Ages travels the King's road in the middle of winter seeking justice for her murdered son. Based on a true story and is so well researched. Fascinating and a real page turner. ...more
About one chapter into **Sinful Folk** by *Ned Hayes* I came to the conclusion that it's a darn good thing I wasn't born and reared in 1377. I'm pretty sure that before someone could say, "Where's the marshmallows?" I would have been burned at the stake as a witch. That seemed to be the fate of many during that time period. Never mind guilt nor innocence. That had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And if they couldn't get you for being a witch, they'd settle for labeling you a Jew which ranked s ...more
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Medieval fiction fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Open Books
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-and-notable
You should know one important thing: Ned Hayes tries, as much as possible, to create characters who have “sensibility and a voice that is realistic for the time period and their station in life”. Due to this, “Sinful Folk”, a story based on real events from the 14th century, is not just another historical fiction that does not actually show how people thought differently at that time compared to how we think now. For example, the heroine of the book, Mear/Miriam, rejects being a woman within a s ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It is the winter of 1377 and five boys have died in a tragic fire. The village of Duns fears this was no accident and vows they will have justice for their loss. The bodies are packed into a cart and a handful of local men set off on a journey that will be both long and dangerous.

Miriam has been living in Duns with her son, Christian, for the past decade. When she arrived, she was being hunted - to be caught would mean certain death for both of them. And so, when the villagers who discovered he
Elspeth G. Perkin
Sinful Folk is a well crafted novel that grips the reader with its first emotionally charged chapter and continues to enlighten and entertain throughout the unique narration with an impressive attention to historical detail. Just like the medieval tales of yore, Mr. Hayes has created a story that is lyrical, captivating and includes strong messages of courage and lost love. The writing is superb and balances the tones of the daring narrator with a historically based mystery that involves the dea ...more
Nancy Silk
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"An Extraordinary, Compelling Novel of Secrets"

This is a story which takes place in the 14th Century in England, where a woman feigns to be a mute man. Her appearance is that of a man which during the last ten years no one has ever challenged her as no one has looked past her wrinkles. One cold, wintry night she rushes outside her humble abode to find a commotion on the Duns village square. The large house of Benedict the Weaver is ablaze, and she fears for her 10-year-old son, Christian, who wa
Sandy Nawrot
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
I'll give you this...I'm not a huge historical fiction reader. But books like this could completely change my attitude. Ned Hayes takes some sparse facts from events that happened in 1300's Medieval England, connected a few dots and set them afire with this story. It really has something for everyone. In a poor outlying village, five young boys were forcibly trapped in a cottage and burned to death. The devastated parents of these boys put their dead children in a wagon and set out for London to ...more
Kathleen Kelly
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sinful Folk is one of those novels that you are not too sure of at the beginning but once you hit that 100 page mark, you are hooked. This story takes place in the 14th century and is about a woman, Mear ( Miriam Houmont) who lives as a man for over 10 years in a small village in England, raising her illegitimate son Christian. There is a fire where five boys are trapped in and die and Mear fears for her son. The door to the house is tied with rope to prevent the boys from being able to escape. ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This book is amazing. The first thing to strike the reader is the sheer physical harshness under which these people lived--the cold, the deprivation & hunger, the poverty. Then comes the complete lack of any sort of "legal" rights for anyone not tied to a lord. This is followed by the power of the nobility and the Church. Marx told us long ago about the feudal system, the advanced brought by the bourgeois revolutions (and, of course, that capitalism had seen it's day and had to go--right on all ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing

“I must learn to be as the bear in a cage with the stick that pokes it always, through the bars. The bear acts as if the stick is made of air, and takes no notice of it, even when it is sharpened and draws blood. I must do the same.”

This historical mystery grabbed me from the brief historical note at the beginning. Set during the reign of Richard II in 1377, the small village of Duns, England. A tragic house fire takes the lives of five young boys; but the fire is very suspicious. Why were all o
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I first saw this book, the medieval aspect caught my attention right away. Still, I figured that for a book of this time period, I expected a lot of boring miles of description and historical references. I was wrong. This book was anything but boring.

The main point of the story was revealed right away, allowing the characters to have a justified reason for their actions and their desperation to solve the crime before them. I greatly enjoyed the way Ned Hayes described the world of these pe
Deby Fredericks
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here is a striking historical novel for YA readers, bringing the world of Medieval England to life. Told through the eyes of a peasant, it focuses on the darker side. We see the narrow confines of thought and action that are open to a peasant. Ordinary folk are not educated, and so live in profound ignorance and are prey to superstition.

Peasants can't travel without a lord's permission. As the group sets out to plead justice for their murdered children, they are constantly set upon by bandits w
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sinful Folk, written by Ned Hayes, is a beautiful tale. It's amazing that the author was able to weave this tale out of a couple of lines from Decanter. Mear or Merriam is a woman who is forced to flee, with her newborn son. Fearing for both her life and the life or her child she leaves her high position behind. Accidentally she becomes a man, and a peasant, hiding in a small village. The terrible murder of five boys, her son among them, forces Merriam along a journey that threatens to bring all ...more
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 ...more
Terry Fossum
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Terry by: An Authors' Club
My thanks go out to Ned Hayes. My insanely busy schedule has kept me from any enjoyment reading for a number of years. His book, Sinful Folk, helped me rediscover the joy of reading lost for so long.

Ned transported me away from my own life’s busyness and challenges to a land far away and a time I knew nothing about. His descriptive narrative made me feel as if I actually journeyed with our small group of adventurers as they sought restitution for a tragic crime committed against their own. We v
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Ned Hayes is a voracious reader (and writer) from Olympia Washington, who now lives in Portland, Oregon.

My novel THE EAGLE TREE was a national bestseller, and was named by New York Times bestselling author Steve Silberman as one of the top 5 books on the autistic experience.. The book has also been endorsed by Temple Grandin and many others.

I read in many gen

Other books in the series

Sinful Folk (4 books)
  • Fire (Sinful Folk #1)
  • Tree / Monastery (Sinful Folk #2-3)
  • Child / Knot (Sinful Folk #4-5)
  • Ring (Sinful Folk #6)

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“I must learn to be as the bear in a cage with the stick that pokes it always, through the bars. The bear acts as if the stick is made of air, and takes no notice of it, even when it is sharpened and draws blood. I must do the same.” 9 likes
“I remember the fire, it burns bright, always around me. I close my eyes, and tears stream out. The tides of the past seize me, bear me out to sea.” 5 likes
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