As the daughter of The Sin Eater, Twylla has a destiny. One day she will take over her mother’s mantle and consume all the sins of the dead, allowing them to pass on to the afterlife. That is until one day when she is plucked from her home and taken to the palace to live with the royal family. For she is Daunen Embodied, the human embodiment of the daughter of the Gods. She lives in luxury, alongside the King and Queen and, one day, will marry their son, Prince Merek.
But she also has another role: Executioner. As Daunen Embodied, she is gifted with skin that can kill anyone upon touch, so whenever treason is committed, she is there, subtly resting her hands on the necks of prisoners, and watching them become consumed by poison.
She is the perfect weapon.
But the royal court is a dangerous place to be, even for Twylla.
This book completely caught me off guard, in all the right ways. It’s the kind of book you think you can predict, and then Wham! Bam! Van Damme! there’s a big twist and suddenly you’re sitting there in complete shock and wonderment.
There are a lot of YA books where a young woman living in poverty is brought to a royal court, because she possesses some kind of talent, only to discover it’s not all sunshine and daisies, but this is the first one i’ve read where you really get the feeling that this isn’t a nice place to be. The first line alone gives that away,
‘Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the screams,’
and it is that dark menace which makes this book as good as it is. Melinda Salisbury doesn’t just talk about how dangerous things can be, she puts great care into showing you.
Of course, when your lead protagonist can kill with a touch, you have to ratchet up the fear factor. Twylla is by no means your traditional YA heroine. She may have been snatched from poverty to live in luxury, she may be betrothed to a prince, but she has also killed thirteen people before her 18th birthday. She’s an incredibly interesting character who’s grown up under the wing of two pretty horrible women: first her mother, and now the Queen, and one of the most fascinating parts of this book is that you can clearly see the effects both of them have had on her.
Many YA authors tend to write characters with a defined set of characteristics, but often forget about how those characteristics have been affected by the events they’ve witnessed and the people they’ve known. Salisbury does not fit into that category.
The effects these people have had on Twylla are an integral part of what makes this book so interesting, but I must admit, it took me a while to learn to like her. Her actions sometimes frustrated me, especially with regards to the men in her life, but as the book progresses she really comes into her own, and her character development is definitely one of the reasons why I ended up enjoying this book as much as I did.
The plot itself is well-structured and constantly keeps you guessing. It’s a story where everything builds to a big crescendo, and when it hits, suddenly everything fits perfectly and you realise how cleverly pieced together it all was.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter is one of those books that you think you’ve got sussed until suddenly Salisbury throws a spanner in the works and you realise it’s a completely different book than you’d previously thought. Twylla is a fascinating lead protagonist, and, for someone who isn’t particularly fond of love triangles, this one really surprised me. I look forward, with anticipation, to the next two books in the trilogy.
This is part of a series of reviews I am writing leading up to YA Shot, a UK day-long convention celebrating Young Adult and Middle Grade literature, which takes place on October 28th 2015.
To read more reviews from authors attending the convention, click here.