Book Review # 47: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Thursday, 9 July 2015
Title: The Sin Eater's Daughter
AuthorMelinda Salisbury
Publisher: Scholastic 
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: March 15th 2015
Pages: 333
Source: Gifted
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones

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...

Originally when I saw this book in bookstores, I read the blurb and was immediately put off by it for it's apparent similarities to Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I openly admit that this was a total jackass thing to do because this book is definitely nothing like Shatter Me. It's a unique story with incredible mythology links to it - which I definitely loved. After discussion with Sally from The Dark Dictator (link here to her profile) about me having not ever read it or even considered it I was gently persuaded *cough* BULLIED *cough* to read it and she was kind enough to send a spare copy that she had my way. I am very grateful for that Sally!  Thank you! So without further ado, what did I think of this book?

For me, the beginning half of the book seemed to be quite slow in terms of pace as well as events happening. Nothing really developed in terms of the plot which was such a shame because the first few chapters of the book really excited me and enticed me to read on. To me it felt like our main character Twylla spent her time either praying, singing or falling for all of the wrong reasons. It was a bit of a shame to have to read chapters that just didn't seem to be going anywhere. We were introduced a variety of characters and the plot is very character heavy in terms of development. Something you don't always get to see in books, so when I see it I like to point it out as a definite bonus feature. After the half way mark the pace and plot of the book really begins to advance as we start to notice the interweaving of a mythological aspect to the story. It was really incredibly done and the build up of this mythology from the beginning of the novel through to the end was structured and worked really effectively for the story. It definitely sets up the ideas for where the second book in this series is going to take off. Although I mention that the build up was effectively structured, I still feel I would have liked some more mentions of the Sleeping Prince character in the beginning of the book, just to add some extra impact to the punch at the end. I felt the beginning definitely could have benefited from something like that. 

I feel I have to mention a particular feature of the story that I found really unique and developed was the idea of 'Sin Eating' in this book. A large focus of the story is placed on the idea of we as people all have elements of sin that we build up throughout our life and that nobody is exempt for that. It definitely highlighted the various levels of sin that different people had and this was identified in the amount of food that was present at the sin eating feasts. I really enjoyed this introduction to the culture of the world in this book - it was very unique and quite thought provoking when I sat down and actually thought about it. For me, the only thing I found to be a little bit disappointing was the actuality of the feast. With sins playing such a major role in the story and the emphasis on how bad and dark sin is, I expected very similar connections to be made with the food. I know there was mention of some of the nastier sins being portrayed by deranged food but I think I was expecting some sort of dark, sinister and extremely gruesome version of what I believed the sin eating to be. Instead of a selection of meats and fruits I guess I was hoping for the digestion of internal organs. It might be a tad weird and to be fair it's probably just my sick mind but the idea of devouring sin from a person led me to the idea of it being quite a torturous role, hence the reason there is only one sin eater in their realm. 

As for the characters, I really enjoyed Twylla's character. Although I found her to be very ditzy and unable to take control of her own situations, I did find her to be very fleshed out and her character progressed as the novel went on. I found at the beginning of the novel I found her lack of restraint to be very infuriating however as I read further and further into the novel I found myself drawn to the understanding as to why her character is like that. Melinda Salisbury does an amazing job at portraying a character who is literally stuck in who she is and the situations she's in. I read an amazing blog post by Mel not so long ago that captures my feelings on why she created Twylla the way she did. Check it out:

"I wrote the kind of book I wanted to read when I was a teen. Because I’d never found myself in a book – never found that one character I could relate to, or be inspired by. I hadn’t found that person who could be my WWTD? model (What Would They Do?). The girls in the books I read were so feisty, and super-smart, and brave, and had brilliant loyal friends, and they could fight, and protect themselves. They were never unsure, rarely afraid. They were everything I was not.

So I wrote it. I wrote about a young woman who was frightened, and powerless, and trapped. And alone. I wrote about how much she had to work to overcome that. And how hard it was."

So there in lies the mystery behind Twylla's character. She isn't overly feisty or brave or extremely intelligent because of the realism behind that 'ideal character.' In this world, some people aren't brave, they were unsure, powerless and trapped in society. Something that I found quite relevant to our society today. Although we're one that is mostly acceptive, there are always some people that are scared to 'rebel' against the others and fight for who they are. Melinda Salisbury does a fantastic job at identifying this in Twylla's character and I applaud her for it wholeheartedly.

As for Lief and Merek, I found it to be a very similar situation to my feelings on Chaol and Dorian from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. It's not too shabby of a statement to say as my feelings on both of those characters were torn as the novel progressed. I was always wondering who my favourite of the pair were and this definitely was the case in this novel. It's not always easy as well because I usually either really like a character or loathe them completely. It's difficult for me to admit that my perceptions were constantly altered the more I worked my way through this novel.

So overall this book was pretty good. It could have been a bit pacier in terms of the plot so that I didn't find myself bogged over with boring plot points and uneventful dialogue. However, there were definitely other elements, deeper and more thought provoking elements that stood out from the crowd. I do look forward to the sequel but I'm interested how Melinda can turn this into a trilogy. I guess we shall see! I award The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury a 3 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale - I am excited to see more of this mythological and fantasy story unravel before me.

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