[Book Review] The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

Title: The Sin Eater’s Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2015
My Rating: ★★★★

Twylla gives up her future as a Sin Eater to become a goddess-embodied. Betrothed to the prince, she carries out her duty as the queen’s executioner for those who commit treason. The very touch of her skin kills. The court, even the prince, avoids her. When a charming new guard arrives, she learns what it is to love. Or something.

Salisbury’s worldbuilding is spot on. The idea of Eating your sins interests me immensely. There are different foods for different sins. For example, Crow for murder and bull’s eye for rape. The Sin Eater, who is always a woman in Twylla’s kingdom, has to accept the food. If she doesn’t, then the deceased cannot be properly put to rest. The Sin Eater is beyond even the queen’s power.

What I don’t understand, and maybe I missed this, is how do you know what foods to set out for the deceased? Some sins are obvious. Others, not so much. What if it’s a secret sin? Do people just somehow know? Or is the person supposed to confess their sins before they die? It was unclear.

Twylla, the main character, doesn’t have as strong a personality as I would like. She shows moments of ruthlessness: She gave up her destiny as a Sin Eater, which she didn’t want, to become a princess. She seems resigned to her role as executioner. She craves power. Yet I didn’t entirely connect with her. She doesn’t actually do a whole lot. For most of the novel, she’s restricted to her room. Anytime she leaves her room, she is accompanied by her escort. I feel like the only thing she really contributes is that she reveals the queen’s plan.

The prince’s plight, on the other hand, tugged at my heartstrings. The poor, lonesome little guy. When you’re surrounded by crazy, inbred family who want to marry you, well, how can you not sympathize? Although he is smart and handsome with dark hair and pale skin (yum, my favorite), I cannot overlook the years of inbreeding that brought him into the world. Therefore, no book boyfriend.

I’ll be honest, the queen scares me. I think women make the best villains. They can be truly terrifying forces, likely because they’re portrayed as being more unpredictable. There’s something about the wicked queen that terrifies me. Wicked kings don’t strike as much fear in me.

I’ve already ordered the second book, so I liked it enough to continue. I’m also excited to switch to a new female protagonist. While I’m not usually a fan of series that change main characters like that, I’m actually looking forward to reading about someone other than Twylla.

Bottom line: Read this for the worldbuilding, not for the character development.

Have you read it?