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Review: Sinful Folk

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A tale of loss, vengeance, treachery and grief in Dark Ages Britain, written by Ned Hayes and illustrated by Nikki McClure.

373 words 1 minute read

I'm always intrigued by novels that are inspired by tiny snippets of historical events.

A sliver of history taken as a seed with enough facts to place it in a believable context can be a rich seam for a skilled author. Ned Hayes has not only recreated a dark period of British history, but has also taken little-known facts and wrapped them in a heart-wrenching tale of loss, vengeance, treachery and grief. Sinful Folk is not a happy read overall, and it shouldn't be when set in the Dark Ages. The flashes of joy, hope and friendship in the tale shine all the brighter for its harrowing setting.

Nikki McClure's chapter-heading artwork adds to the atmosphere. The black and white, wood-block style illustrations seem hewn from the source material itself.

In December of the year 1377, five children were burned to death in a suspicious house fire. A small band of villagers travelled 200 miles across England in midwinter to demand justice for their children's deaths.

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

Sinful Folk is the story of a 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.

The book's description tells you all you need to know about the story, but it is the research, careful crafting of language and moulding of historical events that really raises this novel above the rest. If you like your storytelling to be well-written, with a steady pace, full of richness and fleshed-out with believable characters and a living world, then Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes is a must read.

I'll be looking out for new works by this author.

Buy Sinful Folk

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes is available to buy from Scarlet Ferret, in DRM-free ePub and Mobi formats with digital extras.

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