“I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.”
Twylla lives in a castle much like a princess, however, Twylla is no princess. Twylla is the kingdom’s executioner. But she does not kill with a weapon, she kills with a mere touch. She lives with a mad queen, a gentle king, a bored prince, and many guards who fear her, until one day when a rather handsome guard appears, he out swords all others and is put in charge of Twylla’s safety. But there is a chemistry that makes Twylla feel different, and it isn’t just the fatal poison that rushes through Twylla’s bloodstream.
A fabulously written young adult fiction set in the world of castles, kingdoms and gods. The heroine is strong in determination, doubtful in personality and weak as any typical 17 year old girl would be. Twylla is the perfect embodiment of how a girl acts and thinks and is a delight to read. The story is fascinating and detailed from the scenery to how the plot unfolds. You can see the flowers blowing in the wind and hear the growls of the ugly hunting hounds. I cried with Twylla, my heart thumped when she raced to get back to her tower in time, and I grinned like an idiot when she flushed at the thought of a kiss. The Sin Eater’s daughter will pull you in and delight any reader, young adult or no.
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Below is a thorough review of my personal opinion, but it may knock yours socks off. And like Sheldon has taught us you cannot get them back on easily. So if the above hasn’t convinced you, I shall divulge some unspoilery spoilers to cinch the deal.
I was moving house at the time of reading the book. So I had to pick up and put down The Sin Eater’s Daughter at different intervals – but the imagery was so vivid I could reconnect to Twylla’s life instantly, every memory of the words as fresh as if I had sat down and read it in one sitting.
The general speed of events has a great balance, I was never bored while reading, but there were definite episodes where I was able to put down and reluctantly get back to reality. If you need an exciting book that you can read an hour before bed (especially if like me, if the slightest cliffhanger will make you read by candlelight until dawn), then The Sin Eater’s Daughter will be a comfortable companion for you.
As much as I loved the story and the blossoming relationship between Twylla and her guard, it is the ending of The Sin Eater’s Daughter what gets you though. The last 50 or so pages will turn everything upside down. And yet, it has all been perfectly set up. Little mentions here and there throughout the entire book have brought you this point, and you can do nothing but sit back and just absorb.
However, those final fifty have nothing on the ending 10. Nothing. Think everything is inside out already? Prepare to be folded like origami, pulled inside out, spun around and stabbed in the heart. The feelings I felt, oh the feelings. And even though everything was changed in a matter of a paragraph, it was also so believable. I felt duped, conned, absolutely betrayed. And that is exactly what Salisbury had wanted. The conclusion was executed better than I had hoped, and the epilogue has set up for an exciting sequel. So time is a ticking people, get out and read The Sin Eater’s Daughter now.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter (the actual character)
Other than being Daunen Embodied (the reborn child of the God’s etc) Twylla has no real power herself. She was a humble daughter of the Sin Eater (when people die, their sin’s are eaten by way of a feast), living a peasant life, when the Queen said she was to come live in the castle. What little girl wouldn’t say yes? It’s selfish, you leave behind your family, but hello, castle? It’s not like Twylla has modern peasant life and could be like, well we can’t afford a Playstation 4 but I have my second hand wii and I can live with that. No, this is set in the time of disease and when being poor meant working 24/7 labour to afford to live and dying of exhaustion anyway.
As Twylla grows, she isn’t a super switched on young lady who can out smart people. Not that Twylla is stupid either, she is just average. And it makes her perfect. She has childish mannerisms at times, and she will also have a mature epiphany when she realises what a child she is being. She is a very refreshing heroine and I enjoyed sharing her life but for a moment.
In one chapter she uses her death touch as a threat to manipulate. This of course, appalls her guard. In my head, I assumed she would placate him by saying she threatened as fear is a good way to save the maid from the Queen’s wrath for being associated with Twylla’s little naughty. But she didn’t. Twylla did it with only selfish reasons as she didn’t want to be found out – which when I was reading I thought, “well that was just stupid, the character should have thought this way”. But now, on reflection, I realise how brilliant that passage actually was. Of course Twylla was selfish then, she has been brought up alone, to fear the queen, and has no reason to be caring or concerned of others as they have frequently treated her passively. Of course a 17 year old would act that way. It was in character, and I applaud Salisbury for being able to keep in character even when it would have been nicer to make the reader think she was a darling, even if the other characters don’t see it (as it can be very hard to let other people hate your precious characters, they are your babies). This dedication to uphold a character’s personality at every turn is repeated throughout.
This aspect of the book doesn’t have any real impact on the plot, but it is fascinating. It underlines the lifestyle and religion of Twylla’s world. Each sin is represented by a food. It seems that everything is a sin: being angry, lies, treachery. Some are extravagant foods flavoured with nutmeg and pomegranate, some vile, like soured cream for abortion [As a pro-choice girl and the need to not give away any spoilers, I need to point out that this particular chapter is superbly written and really covers a deep issue of personal views. If you really want to know, go buy the book and read it!].
These foods are laid out on the person’s coffin – from baby to old Kings. And the Sin Eater (in this generation, it is Twylla’s mother) comes and eats it. If she doesn’t eat every last crumb within three days of death the person’s soul is doomed to wander the woods as a wraith.
Annoying people who are mean would be so expensive to bury… would you just let relatives you didn’t like become wraiths? What if they came back and haunted you. *shiver*
I came across The Sin Eater’s Daughter on Twitter. Being a fan of YA and fantasy fiction in general I follow the key accounts, and Melinda Salisbury’s debut novel popped up, and I thought “wow, beautiful cover.” Honestly, I didn’t go to do anything else as I just moved house and have yet to buy bookshelves, so I really shouldn’t be looking to buy books at the moment. But the title and the cover had me hooked. Like seriously, that title just raises so many questions: Why does the character define herself as the daughter? What is a sin eater? So I couldn’t buy, but I followed, and was entertained by many red squirrel pictures and crazy adventures of a new bike by the coast. This human is obviously a good human. I like books written by good humans.
And then, one magical evening during my last Twitter before bed, Author Salisbury made a simple post saying first three replies get a free book. Believing I would come at most fourth, I replied instantly with PLEASE…and won first! It was such a happy time. The book then arrived on my birthday of all days, and inside was a delightful golden sketch of a red squirrel.
What has any of this got to do with a book? Nothing and everything. Writers are by nature strange, as a writer myself I know the way I view the world is completely different to how others do. But social media now gives us an insight into the kind of person has crafted the world you are about to escape to. And I already knew I wanted to enter that dangerous world.
As soon as I finished the book I tweeted begging for the sequel and was promised it would be ‘soon’.