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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 320
Genre: Fantasy • Romance

       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
        She’s the executioner.
        As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
        But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy 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 Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
        However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

 *An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

That ending? I couldn't be more confused or am I disappointed? I don't even know.

Twylla, if you can guess by the title, is the Sin Eater's Daughter. A Sin Eater consumes the sins of the dead which are symbolized through specific foods. Crow, spoiled milk, apples, bull's eyes . . . each sin, large or small, deadly or minute, are eaten by the country's Sin Eater. And Twylla is training to take over her mother's role as the next Sin Eater. That is, until the Queen comes and proposes another enthralling destiny bestowed upon young Twylla's life. She is a goddess incarnate come to bring peace and prosperity to the shaken land of Lormere. She is an executioner, her skin seeping with the very poison she is able to overcome. Traitors to the crown fall at the slightest touch of her fingers. And Twylla is about to find herself in the face of treason when a new guard assigned to protect her brings her hope, love, and a truth that shakes all Twylla had been training for. But the queen is ruthless, vindictive, and mad. Those who dare cross her or relish in delights that she cannot face death. And Twylla's shadow is about to cross paths with her future mother-in-law.

The Sin Eater's Daughter is quite a misleading story, both interesting and had me feeling indifferent. Yes, Twylla is the Sin Eater's Daughter, but the book is not about her becoming the next Sin Eater, it is about her as a goddess embodied. Misleading. Especially since I found the concept of Sin Eating inspiring, and it was my favorite bit of the entire book. I wanted to know all of the foods that were associated with what sin.That being said, I wished there was more Sin Eating in the book, I mean, it is in the title. If you're going to name the book The Sin Eater's Daughter maybe it should have more to do with that topic rather than giving the reader flashbacks and info-dumps about it. Honest opinion is honest. But, I digress.

Second, the world is dark and feral and just get's worse from there. From gruesome deaths by hounds to incestuous relationships that keep getting weirder as the book goes on. The world-building pretty much made the novel while the romance tried to bring everything home, and I just wasn't for that. Romance in a story is good, but I felt that The Sin Easter's Daughter had so much going on along with its dark overtones that the love-triangle (yes, there is a dreaded love triangle) happening between the prince and the guard (who hasn't seen that pairing before? Throne of Glass/The Selection *coughcough*) was unnecessary and deterred me from the story-at-large. Both her guard, Lief, and her betrothed, Merek, were difficult to stomach when Twylla was thrown like a wrench into their character dynamics. I found myself tired of sheltered Twylla struggling between her duty to marry Merek and become queen, and her kindling love for Lief and the treason that comes with being in love and physical with another man. Honestly, Merek would have been a sensible choice, sweet and cunning and overall a gentleman in every sense of the word. *Waves little flag for Merek*

For a story that had so much world building and lore embedded in it, I don't understand the route that the author took with the romance. Stories that rely heavily on romance to sweep the plot along 9/10 do not captivate, and I was not captivated! The Sin Eater's Daughter had fantastic elements: the Sin Eating, the Pied-Piper-esque lore sprinkled throughout, the insane queen--it was the romance that did itself in. Paired with Twyla's sheltered lifestyle, her passive involvement, and half of the story taking place in her cloistered room, there wasn't much that particularly wowed me besides what I had spoken about before. Messy and sloppy seems to be the best description of it. Young Adult does not always need to be about the romance or the catastrophic decision that is love. It can be about the journey and the growth without there being romantic feelings involved. For a book with a intriguing and unusual sounding plot, it fell into the pit-hole of YA cliche.

Final Summation: An entertaining and scary world, The Sin Eater's Daughter takes a numerous number of turns that did not meet any of my expectations. For a book sounding as it revolves around Sin Eating, there isn't much of it. For a synopsis that informs us of executions, there isn't many going on. The world and the lore alone do not pull all of this book together. Entertaining as it may be, Twylla and the romance deterred any captivation for the later half of the book. The big secret was out of the bag halfway through, and while there are other twists and turns toward the end, the love triangle suffocates most of it. Book two, can you do any better?

 Three targets slayed for Sin Eating, or lack there of . . .