Title: The Sin Eater’s Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Genre: YA, High fantasy
Published: 2015 (UK)
Acquired: Paperback bought on Amazon
Rating: ★★★★☆ [3.5]
Book Blurb:: ‘I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch’
Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Tywlla’s fatal touch.
Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girl she truly is.
Yet in court as dangerous as the queen’s, some truths should not be told…
I bought this book as part of an Amazon deal because I really liked the premise of the plot. I was really craving to read a book about high fantasy royalty, and this one really stood out to me because of Twylla’s twist, in that she poisons anyone she touches. This sounded right up my street, so I was dying to give it a read. Also, the cover is just DIVINE. Oh my gosh it is so beautiful, I love the green gradients and the bottle idea, the sticky threads in the liquid, ugh I just love everything. It makes me even happier that the rest of the series has similar cover designs too, I’ll have so much beauty on my bookshelf to gawk at!
The story focuses on Twylla’s life in the castle of Lormere, and her experience being Daunen Embodied for a no-nonsense queen. Twylla originally lived life as the Sin Eater’s daughter, an imaginative role created by Melinda Salisbury where the Sin Eater eats a spread symbolising someone’s sins upon their death, so that they can pass freely into the afterlife.
Twylla’s path to inherit the Sin Eater role from her mother is suddenly changed when she is proclaimed Daunen Embodied and betrothed to the prince.In the story Daunen is the daughter of the Gods, hence Twylla has received their blessings. Due to her ‘blessed’ poisonous touch she lives an isolated life in the castle for years, as only the royal family can touch her without dying. She proves her favour from the Gods by regularly drinking poison (Morningsbane), and the fact that she has not yet died provides the proof that she is blessed within the kingdom.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter focuses on Twylla’s life within the castle walls, particularly the events after she receives a new guard called Lief to keep her safe. Upon meeting Lief Twylla is overcome with a variety of new emotions, as well as shocking discoveries about not only her own life, but those within the castle and the fate of Lormere as everyone knows it.
I have to say that this book was really enjoyable! Melinda Salisbury has managed to create a new unique world within the high fantasy and royalty genre. I really liked the idea of Sin Eating, even if it was a little confusing at the beginning. I didn’t quite get why people trust the Sin Eater despite no other evidence of the ritual being a proven thing. However this, combined with the notion of the Gods and Daunen Embodied, made the story so much more magical and a lot more enjoyable. I also liked the use of lore in this book, especially as it all linked in to help understand the events at the end!
In my opinion the beginning of the book involves quite a bit of scene-setting and flashbacks so the reader can fully understand Twylla’s life in a bit more detail. While this isn’t a huge problem for me as I do like the world building, it did get a bit slow at times. However the second half of the book was so good! I really really wasn’t expecting Lief’s discovery and the subsequent events with the King and Queen.
As it is a fantasy novel I take a lot of the written events and history as gospel as I cannot use real-world knowledge to help with the world-building, so I never expected any changes to that in the story! It was really interesting and once the discovery was made the ball got rolling and I just couldn’t put the book down! Not only did I not expect Lief’s discovery but the Queen’s plans were just horrible and not at all what I thought she would do. Well done Melinda! 😀
I will admit that I didn’t always like the romance in The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Romance is the main theme in this book, which isn’t a problem except it wasn’t fully developed. There is a love triangle (of course), but I really didn’t feel it that strongly from Merek’s side, yet with Lief everything skyrocketed super quickly. I know Twylla is lonely and dare I say desperate for companionship, but she really did dive into everything too quickly- Lief even more so considering his position.
As a character Merek was so mysterious that I couldn’t tell what he honestly thought about Twylla at all. I didn’t really see any romantic advances or embarrassment from him, just a lot of mysterious smirking. This could be due to the story being written rom Twylla’s perspective (and she really doesn’t get boys), but I feel Merek could have been fleshed out a little more as I kept thinking his desire was purely political, when I really think he was supposed to love her? Melinda did write that he had liked Twylla since they were young, but I honestly didn’t feel that at all from the prince.
Twylla’s character can also be a bit whiny throughout the story, as she does complain a lot about her situation and her damsel-in-distress helplessness, despite being blessed by the Gods. I did find this annoying at first and it did distract me from the plot every so often, but the whole point of Twylla is that she has grown up being told what to do her whole life; she is fairly sheltered and hence naive about the world. Also, if I was suddenly told that I have been blessed by the gods and have witnessed people dying from my single touch I’m sure I would act exactly the same way! I wouldn’t know how to cope, that’s for sure (I have no backbone). I rarely read books in first person so I wasn’t used to have a character focus on feelings the whole time. It took some getting used to but it was a nice change, and you could still see Twylla start to mature throughout the book, especially with regards to her outlook on her situation and the way she has interacted with the past and the present.
Overall The Sin Eater’s Daughter was.. okay. I did enjoy the plot progression towards the end, but there were some areas that didn’t engross me as much as I would have liked. I would say that this book is definitely aimed more towards a ‘teen’ high fantasy due to the first person viewpoint of a naive young woman and her realisation of herself and her emotions.The first half was a bit more confusing and harder to follow due to learning about Lormere, Daunen and Twylla’s past all at once, and I do feel the characters need a bit more depth, but the second half definitely made up for it, which is why I rated this book 3.5 out of 5. I still can’t wait to read the second book, The Sleeping Prince to see how the story progresses (and to drool over another gorgeous cover)!