Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's DaughterThe Sin Eater’s Daughter
Melinda Salisbury
Scholastic Press, February 2015
ISBN: 978-0-545-81062-3

Twylla comes from an odd background. No father is ever mentioned and her mother is the Sin Eater for the crown. Her job is to sit by the casket of a recently deceased person and ‘eat’ their sins in the form of various foods, spices and drink laid out on the top of the coffin. For years, Twylla believed she would be the next Sin Eater, but everything changed when the queen declared her to be the Daunen Embodied, the first in over a hundred years.

Her position requires her to have a drop of her blood mixed with poison once per month. She then drinks the mix as a way to demonstrate her purity and ability to see truth in others. It also makes contact with her skin lethal. Touching the condemned is another part of her destiny, one she’s come to detest because the queen made her kill a boy she’d become friendly with after declaring him a traitor for unspecified reasons. Another bit of reality hanging heavily over her is the fact that she’s betrothed to Merek, the prince who will assume the throne after his mother and stepfather relinquish it.

Merek has been away on a learning journey for the past two years, but his return, with some very different ways of seeing the future of the kingdom, sets in motion a series of events that quickly spiral out of control. This spiral is fueled by the queen’s treachery, the forbidden attraction between Twylla and Lief, her new bodyguard who comes from another kingdom where medicine and alchemy are far more advanced.

As she becomes more attracted to Lief, she must also agonize over her bond with Merek because she begins to see things through his eyes. The last thirty pages reminded me of a literary tennis match as emotions and truth bounced all over the place, but in an impossible to put down way. Every time it seemed like Twylla figured out how she felt about Merek and Lief, some new angle threw everything out the window. This was done so well, I couldn’t really anticipate what would finally happen. That’s a rare feat these days.

This is an excellent YA fantasy, one that adults will like as well and has me eager to read the second book, The Sleeping Prince: A Sin Eater’s Daughter Novel which is told from Lief’s younger sister’s point of view.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2016.