Sinful Folk


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



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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.

In the end, I listen to my fear. It keeps me awake, resounding through the frantic beating in my breast. It is there in the dry terror in my throat, in the pricking of the rats' nervous feet in the darkness. Christian has not come home all the night long. I know, for I have lain in this darkness for hours now with my eyes stretched wide, yearning for my son's return. On this night, I tell myself that the sound I hear is frost cracking, river ice breaking. I lie to my own heart, as one lies to a frightened child, one who cannot be saved. All the while, I know it is a fire. And I know how near it is.

Ned has been kind enough to provide the entire first section of the novel - Book 1 - free to download and read!

Why you'll love Sinful Folk

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 recreated a dark period of British history and, taking little-known facts, has wrapped them in a heart-wrenching tale of loss, vengeance, treachery, and grief.


This riveting, poetic story puts Mear and her companions through a series of brutal medieval adventures.

Historical Novel Society

When you think about the Middle Ages, what do you picture? Knights in shining armor? Castles and kings and queens and serfs? I'd be lying if I said that isn't the very first thing I think of, myself. And to an extent, that is part of it. But the Middle Ages are so much richer and more complex than that.

100 Must-Read Medieval Historical Fiction Novels - BookRiot

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.

The Epubizer

I love it when fiction and non-fiction come together. Here's a novel you may like, because I was floored by it.

Kathryn LeVeque

An exquisitely written historical thriller that chillingly evokes the fear and cruelty of medieval England in the dark years after the Black Death. 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, best-selling author of The Owl Killers & Company of Liars

Fans of historical fiction should absolutely pick this one up, as it is reach in period detail, but the story is never overwhelmed by it, as does happen with some regularity in this genre. Miriam is a unique character as well, in my experience, and her story - albeit a mash-up of possibilities rather than a direct historical reference - fascinates. Mr. Hayes does a solid job of conjuring up the settings as well, and of keeping the plot ticking until the last page is turned.

What She Read...

News about Sinful Folk

Our new book recounts a devastating tale of historical fiction, written by Ned Hayes and illustrated by Nikki McClure.

Photo of Ned Hayes

Ned Hayes

Ned Hayes is a novelist, journalist, technologist, and humanist who has authored books in many genres, published around the world in multiple languages - most recently the national bestseller The Eagle Tree, which was named one of the top 5 books about the autistic experience. His previous novels include the acclaimed historical novel Sinful Folk, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, which was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. He was educated at Stanford University and the Rainier Writing Workshop and has served on the boards of the Reading Foundation and Clarion West.

More about Ned Hayes

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