📑 Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
"A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy. Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins?
Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess.
Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?" - From Goodreads
Hello, my name is A of JAF and I cannot help but judge books by their cover.
I know, I know, we’re told time and time again that that is the last thing we should be doing, but I can’t help it, my eyes see the cover before my brain has time to read the synopsis. Thankfully, that has enabled me to get lured in by many a good book.
Unfortunately, my judgement call has also caused me to be ensnared by books whose packaging far surpassed the content inside. (If that’s not an on-point metaphor, I don’t know what is.)
The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury is a book that caught my eye (see cover above). To be fair, it’s both the cover and the title that made me go ‘yes please!’
It tells the story of Twylla, whose power of killing with a single touch is being exploited by the queen of who uses Twylla as the kingdom’s executioner, killing all those accused of treason.
Sounds awesome, right?
Weeellll...it was, but then all of a sudden it wasn’t.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. True, it wasn't action packed, but there was a nice build filled with information about this fantasy land's history and legends and Twylla’s personal past. I really liked how things that were affecting her in the present would trigger memories/wisdoms/lessons from before she was “Daunen Embodied" (i.e. embodied with the Goddess, i.e. filled with the power to KILL, mwahahaha). For the most part, I liked her...kind of, though her character development was slow and her meekness infuriating and…. Okay, I’ll stop before I forget that she didn’t grate on me that much. Also, the feeling of claustrophobia she experiences by being all-but-confined to her tower and the limited interactions she gets to have with other humans (even her supposed 'betrothed,' the prince, because most people avoid someone who can kill you if they touch you).
Again, the world building I really enjoyed, the concept had me all excited, but the overall book/plot?
At this point, I'm not sure how to properly express my grievances (and therefore the bulk of my review) about the book without unleashing a motherload of spoilers so I'll try to be vague and hope it makes sense. I will do a ‘spoiler’ warning though, just in case (as is the most likely scenario) I fail at this whole “vague” thing.
So you, the reader, spend around 2/3rds of the book believing that this fantasy world/nations with their own set of historical details and political maneuverings has this one, more or less, core element woven through. This one feature that basically drives the plot and holds everything things together....only to have that belief completely upturned. Which is fine, that's why "twists" exists in the first place, in fact that would have been the very definition of a twist, whether I was happy with it or not isn't the issue. But then even *that* belief is somehow challenged by a vaguely foreshadowed revelation that changes the tone of the story but kind of brings back that original world-essential element you previously thought was eradicated by the first twist.
Think M. Night Shyamalan, but you know, the later years.
Did that make sense? I hope so. Maybe when you read the book you'll understand what I mean? I know, I made a very strong argument for reading it didn't I?
I have yet to pick up the other two books in this series (is it a series? Not sure if they’re direct sequels or just set in the same world). And honestly my TBR shelf is just getting more and more filled each day so, probably not going to tackle those any time soon, pretty covers aside.
(Some) Memorable Quotes:
“In the stories of old, a hero is the one who sweeps in with a drawn sword and noble face, to kill the Dragon and free the princess. In the stories of old it never seems to dawn on the princess that she should be careful not to put herself at mercy of those who would do her ill in the first place. I don't live in the stories of old.”
“That's the problem with fairy tales, they change with the telling.”
If anyone has read The Sin Eater's Daughter (or any of this sequels) let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!