Over the last couple of week I’ve had the courtesy of meeting and becoming friends with Melinda Salisbury author of debut novel The Sin Eater’s Daughter. A beautiful, intelligent, kind, Harry Potter obsessed, opinionated feminist – she tries to be scary but I think it is all pretence, she’s a softy really. Strangely enough after my first conversation with Mel, she asked me not to read her book – so I ordered it that evening. For your information this review will contain spoilers.
Synopsis: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
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…
The Sin Eater’s Daughter is fantastic, I have not read another book like this. I didn’t feel as though the story had paused as the world-building took place. The world harmoniously became concrete with each word. I wanted to know more about the alpha-Queen, Sin-Eating, and what being Daunen Embodied actually meant.
The main protagonist: Twylla
For me Twylla was a bit too naive and passive. She believed and did everything she was told. No questions asked. This was slightly incomprehensible because she is perceived as Daunen Embodied, she can kill with one touch.
However Twylla is also a representation of what every teenager has been. A confused, struggling, attention wanting, self-conscious teen searching for a better life and a straightforward path to what she desires. Not realising, that what one desires comes at a cost and in the grander scheme of life getting what you want often comes with things you don’t want. Her lack of self reminds me of what life as a teenager can really be and Melinda has captured this fantastically. Being a teenager is hard; being a teenager in a fantastical setting trying to digest: a love triangle, the evil Queen who is trying to kill you, a Mother who doesn’t care, guilt for your sister’s death, the weight of several executions on your shoulders and a destiny to fulfill, I am assuming is a stressful-freight.
Twylla represents issues every teenager struggles with, identity and expectation. She tries to be The Sin Eater’s Daughter but that life doesn’t suit her and drives a wedge between her relationship with her Mother, because she does not ever feel good enough. She tries to be Daunen Embodied but it is a lie and all her efforts to please the Queen are ignored. She throws all of herself into her love for Lief but he betrays her and her hopes to escape from Lormere are shattered.
As the book comes to a close we see Twylla outside of the Castle away from the world she was once imprisoned by. This for me is the sweet reward for my patience. The act of moving away from the castle shows progression and I look forward to seeing how Twylla grows as a character. Her lack of imprisonment means she saved herself, even if temporary, her escape from the castle was due to her own intellect by figuring out the Queen’s plans and trumping her.
You will not see praise for love triangles here. However although it is premature ultimately Twylla chooses who she thinks she loves. Even if she is deceived.
Twylla’s one-minute-daunen-embodied and the next-minute-sleeping-with-her-guard is confusing but driven by her naive notion of acceptance. She believes Lief understands her and sees beyond the girl who kills people (who doesn’t actually kill people). I feel Tywlla’s need for acceptance encourages her affection for Lief. I don’t actually believe she’s in love, more infatuated. Lief represents freedom, he’s a scapegoat, a way out of the Castle and Twylla feels trapped cue infatuation and love.
Merek – the other guy (Prince) puts up a feeble fight for Twylla but I find his efforts are demeaning, dismissive and possessive. He also lies to Twylla.
Not just an ordinary girl
Though Twylla wasn’t the heroine I hoped for, I am glad she wasn’t the same kick-ass invincible warrior young adult fiction has been spurting out over the past few years. There is potential for her character to become more comprehensive, to establish herself and still time to create an entirely new identity for herself. She’s an ordinary girl who in a fantastical world suffering the same woes every teenager endures and then some, this is a journey to follow.
“In the stories of old, a hero is the one who sweeps in with a drawn sword and noble face, to kill the Dragon and free the princess. In the stories of old it never seems to dawn on the princess that she should be careful not to put herself at mercy of those who would do her ill in the first place. I don’t live in the stories of old.”
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series: The Sleeping Prince which will introduce new characters. Later this week I will be interviewing Melinda Salisbury author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince. So watch out!