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As the Sin Eater's daughter and apprentice, Twylla is resigned to her fate. Like her mother before her, she will spend her life growing fat off the sins of the dead. It's an important duty in the kingdom of Lormere, but certainly not a glamorous one. Twylla longs for something different than the lonely, hardscrabble life through which she sees her mother slog every day. So, when the queen informs Twylla that she's been chosen by the gods to serve her country in an elite position, the 13-year-old jumps at the chance. Not only will she get to live in the castle, betrothed to Prince Merek, but the queen will see that Twylla's family receives healthy compensation, money they sorely need.
Four years later, Twylla has a better understanding of what it really means to be Daunen Embodied. Because her blessed blood is mixed with a magical potion every month, her skin is toxic. Except for the king, queen, and prince, no one can touch her without dying. Sequestered in the luxurious castle, feared by those around her, Twylla lives a privileged, but lonely life. Even her fianceé avoids her. Her special duties as court assassin only make her life more difficult. Twylla knows she must do her duty for her queen, for her country, and for her family, but she wishes for something more than her isolated world.
Her wish is granted with the arrival of her new bodyguard. A handsome 18-year-old from a neighboring land, Lief treats Twylla with a charming familiarity that no one else has ever employed with her. Not only does his presence make her heart pound, but his gentle prodding makes her question everything she's ever known. As she learns shocking truths about her queen, her belief structure, and herself, Twylla will have to decide what's real, what's not, and—for the first time in her life—what and who she really wants.
The Sin Eater's Daughter, a debut novel by Melinda Salisbury, introduces a vivid, complex world populated by an intriguing cast of characters. With tight, evocative prose, Salisbury molds all these elements into a slow-building, but engrossing story. The elements of well-known fairy tales that are woven into the narrative make it even deeper, although I would have liked to see more development of the ones I found most interesting (the Pied Piper, for example), which perhaps will come in the trilogy's subsequent installments. That being said, there were several things that detracted from my enjoyment of this novel. The biggest one? The so-very-annoying love triangle. Ugh. I also wanted more from Twylla as a heroine. While she's a sympathetic character, she's not a very dynamic one. She spends most of her time reacting instead of acting, letting other people save her instead of saving herself. Admittedly self-absorbed, she's just not a strong, admirable enough heroine for me. Plotwise, the story follows a pretty generic things-are-not-as-they-seem pattern. It kept me reading, yes, but not salivating over the upcoming sequels. Salisbury is obviously a skilled writer, she just didn't win me over with her freshman effort. Ah, well.
(Readalikes: Nothing is coming to mind. Suggestions?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for sexual content (not graphic) and violence