The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

indexShortlisted for the 2016 YA Book Prize

Twylla is offered the chance to live in the court as the future wife of the heir to the throne. This means giving up her destiny as Sin Eater after her mother dies, which is no bad thing as far as she is concerned. It means always having clothes and food and knowing that her little sister will be taken care of. Of course, there is the problem that she will one day have to marry a prince she has hardly met, but, hey, he’s a prince and one day he’ll be king and she’ll be queen, so, no real problem there.

The only thing is … Twylla has a mystical power. Her skin is infused with poison so that anyone she touches dies. Her new role at court is as executioner. And the Queen likes to execute people who make her angry.

A lot of fantasy novels build on traditions that already exist in this world, be they stories or history or superstitions or religious beliefs. Melinda Salisbury has chucked out everything that is familiar and started again, forming a world from scratch. There is so much in the layers of myth and history that she’s created here that under less deft hands you might become mired in the world-building and lose the story. But The Sin Eater’s Daughter skips along, weaving its world as it goes, so that the reader remains thoroughly enmeshed in the plot.

There are a couple of mis-steps. I found that the reveal of the legend of the Sleeping Prince was rather sudden considering that the denouement hung upon it. I also felt that there was something missing in Twylla’s decision to give up the role of the Sin Eater. It seemed that most people disliked and possibly feared the Sin Eater, but I got no sense of how Twylla felt about her mother’s job.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is a page-turner: properly tense from the very beginning, and with a twist at the end so unexpected but so inevitable that it had me flicking back through the pages going, ‘How did I not see that coming?’ The ending itself is well-handled for the first book in a series too. Twylla’s story is complete but the larger story of the kingdom is not.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter was an excellent read, fascinating in its elaborate web of created myths and traditions, and gripping as a story. Read it!

Claire Watts

piranha stars green 4


More to Read!

After you’ve finished The Sin Eater’s Daughter, you can follow it with the sequel, The Sleeping Prince, which is just out. If both of these are your kind of books, I recommend Katy Haye’s books, The Last Gatekeeper and The Last Dreamseer.


Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Her latest YA novel is How Do You Say GOOSEBERRY in French? You can read the first chapter here.

There’s a giveaway for Claire’s book running until June 1st 2016 over on Goodreads. Click here to enter.


Want more YA book stuff?

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