The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

 Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (#1)
Read: March 29th-April 3rd
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: March 1st, 2015
Genre: high fantasy
Rating: ★★☆

 In short: underwhelming, plotless, and carrying all the tragic promise of a great premise. Why?!

Goodreads: 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 it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

I was fully ready for this book to rock my world, even if it sounded like Shatter Me which I really didn’t like. But come on, high fantasy! An executioner! Badass divine powers! A grammatical error in the blurb that I just noticed! No. Turns out this book has zero plot until the last 10% where ALL THE THINGS start to happen. Turns out Twylla is so frustratingly passive that by the time she came into her own I genuinely did not care. Turns out this book has a dreadful love triangle. Disappointment seems to be the theme of the day.

So Twylla leaves her home and family as a young girl to live at the castle, because the queen tells her she’s Daunen Embodied—a form of a goddess born of both day and night, both life and death—and she must act as befits her station. Which is the queen’s way of saying come be my bitch executioner. Because Twylla can take a deadly poison without being affected, and can pass it onto others with a single touch. Cool so far? Yes. Adding to the coolness is the fact that Twylla was fairly important even before, because her mother is the kingdom’s official Sin Eater. When people die, feasts are laid out over their coffins, each food symbolic of a sin. The Sin Eater eats all the sins, literally, and forgives the dead. Cool so far? Yes. That is the end of the cool.

Firstly the title is greatly misleading because Twylla gives up her position as Sin-Eater-in-training when she comes to the castle. There is about zero Sin Eating on her part, and like, a leetle bit on her mother’s. Secondly, most of the book is comprised entirely of flashbacks that are really oddly placed and Twylla praying/cowering/fawning over her new guard. That’s right kids, Twylla does the most stereotypical thing a high fantasy woman could do and falls in love with her guard. While engaged to the prince. And the guard is of course foreign, with ideas about ~science~ and ~rationality~ and ~democracy~. Let’s just give him a trophy, why don’t we? So not only do we have basically my least favourite love triangle in the world, but also all members of it are utterly bland.

Twylla’s knees shake just about every time she sets her eyes on Prince Merek in the beginning of the book. And when she sees the queen. Basically Twylla has very weak knees and needs to increase her calcium intake, probably. (Twylla also has no maids at all, which is quite fishy. All right, they can’t dress her, but don’t they have to be there? At some point? I don’t even know.) Actually, Twylla is pretty much surrounded by dudes and is yet rendered speechless when faced with Merek. Perhaps her corset was too tight. But more importantly, Twylla is so passive she puts Juliette to shame. She does nothing on her own; things happen to her. Twylla gets a new guard, Twylla is reunited with her betrothed, Twylla falls in love with her guard, Twylla’s guard and fiancé let her roam around the castle…She does not do a damned thing until almost the end of the novel, where she puts together some extremely unconvincing clues and comes to a grand conclusion: the queen is evil and has it out for everyone. That’s great, Twylla, you want a cookie? But the potential! Honestly, Twylla had pretty much the most important role in the kingdom handed to her. She’s the future queen. What better way to turn around her life of being manipulated and used than by ruling? I came to this conclusion about a third of the way through. I doubt Twylla has at all.

Merek and Lief are no better, which is even more unfortunate seeing as how the romance takes up about 70% of the book. Lief is so utterly drab and uninteresting. He has all the personality of a Ken doll—brave, kind-hearted, loyal, but also like, flirty, because he can’t be syrupy-sweet, am I right? Yawn. Also, INSTA-LOVE. Merek was slightly better because he comes from a line of inbreeding and insanity (that…did not come out the way I wanted) and will do anything to escape marrying a family member and adding on to the incest-fest. But we don’t see much of him, and the parts we see are coloured by Twylla’s Lief-adoring POV and pretty much made him a bad guy, like he wanted to possess Twylla as an object. Okay, fair enough, but it felt like a total personality turnover. And of course she doesn’t do anything, just feels weak-kneed and wishes she was kissing Lief.

Even the queen is rather un-scary. The narrative is constantly telling us how ~evil~ she is, how ~ruthless~ and ~coldhearted~. And then of course it’s all blamed on the generations of ‘cest muddling up her brain. For all her manipulation, she wasn’t too difficult to take down.

There was no plot until the plot twist, I kid you not, and that plot twist felt rather unnecessary. The characters were bland, it was fairly predictable, and despite the really interesting mythology, it’s pretty much your stereotypical faux-England with your stereotypical patriarchal society. I wish Twylla had been the Sin Eater instead of Daunen Embodied. Bottom line: this book could have been The Young Elites, but ended up more à la Defy. Meh.


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