In December of 1377, five children are burned in a suspicious house fire. Awash in paranoia and prejudice, the fathers suspect it is the work of Jews and set out to seek justice from the king, loading the charred bodies of their boys onto a cart. Unbeknownst to them, among them is a woman, Mear, who has been hiding out in the town for the past 10 years posing as a mute man. It is a treacherous journey, for their rations are spare and the weather is brutal. And always, they are haunted by the question, Why were their boys in Benedict the weaver’s house, and who would do this to them? Mear, ever resourceful, not only watches for clues to unravel the mystery but also provides invaluable aid in finding their way, for she has traveled this way before and is the only literate one among them. The reason for her false identity is slowly revealed as the villagers are chased by bandits and must overcome numerous obstacles, hunger and fear among them. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes’ novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read. --Joanne Wilkinson
BOOKLIST *Starred Review*
"Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes' novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read." -- BookList, Joanne Wilkinson
"An exquisitely written historical thriller... Told by a brave and charismatic narrator who will twist your heart-strings with her story from the first page to final startling revelation. An amazing novel based on a truly fascinating, unsolved mystery of the Middle Ages." -- Karen Maitland,
international best-selling author of The Owl Killers and Company of Liars
"A pilgrim tale worthy of Chaucer, evocative, compelling and peopled with unforgettable characters artfully delivered by a master storyteller."
-- Brenda Rickman Vantrease,
New York Times best-selling author of The Illuminator and The Mercy Seller
"Sinful Folk is a work of art. Miriam's story is a raw and brutal and passionate tale, but her story touches the reader because it's a timeless story - awonderful portrayal of medieval life. Highly recommended."
-- Kathryn Le Veque,
bestselling author of The Dark Lord
and The Warrior Poet
"Sinful Folk is a beautiful and bleak tale - a murder mystery and a journey of personal revelation. Ned Hayes takes the reader on a time machine trip to the harsh and hopeful life that ordinary people really lived."
-- William Dietrich,
Pulitzer Prize winning, New York Times best-selling author of The Ethan Gage series