The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love? 1

I recognized the cover of the book which helped to draw me in and choose the audiobook.  There were many times listening to the audiobook that I had to pause and replay things trying to understand what the reader was saying.  She did have an accent which may have added to the confusion but after hearing it about a thousand times over and over I finally figured out what it is she was saying.

Twylla is a goddess-embodied, the goddess Daunen to be precise and referred to as Daunen-Embodied, or as it sounded on audiobook “Dornan and bodied”.  When she was little she wanted nothing more than to live life at the Castle and in the Court.  Now the castle is her prison and she is a killer.  People cower from her and jump out of the way as she approaches as a single touch from her is lethal.  Twylla was originally training to follow in the line of her mother as the Sin Eater, and the long line of those before her.  A Sin Eater would be hired by the family to attend a departed’s funeral service.  A variety of foods would be laid out upon the coffin, each one representing a different sin of the person who has passed.  Her mother became a large woman due to her profession, but she had a technique and a science to her craft.  If the sins of those departed were not eaten, they would not be able to cross over peacefully to the other side.  Though Twylla knew this to be her destiny she never pictured herself following in the footsteps of her mother, but now being Daunen-embodied and the skin of a murderer, she questions her choice as a child.  Twylla must swallow the poison which makes her skin so deadly, showing the people that she is a goddess-embodied for being able to withstand the poison that lives in her skin and to execute traitors against the kingdom and crown which is the will of the gods.

Due to Twylla’s position and affliction she has no friends or contact with people aside from her own personal guard.  The number of those willing to be her guard are few and far between, for many fear her and her touch.  When a new young guard begins training to protect her, she is taken aback by his constant attention and proximity to her person.  The attention which is at first shocking and unwanted, turns into something unfamiliar and dangerous as it toys with Twylla’s feelings and emotions.  Twylla, as the embodiment of the goddess is betrothed to the young prince Merrick who has been out of the country for much of her time at the castle.  When the prince suddenly returns, Twylla struggles with following her duty to the prince and following her heart.  Her interactions with the guard are treasonous which is ironic that the punishment for treason is death by her hands.

The Queen, whom Twylla once idolized and envied is now a serpent in her own cage.  When Twylla discovers the Queen’s secrets, her entire world is smashed to pieces and the legends of story books begin to haunt her from the shadows.

The covers for the books are very intriguing and a definite selling feature for the series.  My feelings for the book seemed to waiver as much as Twylla’s, but the convenience of the audiobooks and availability ultimately won out in the end.  There are so many elements within the story that I wish we could have delved into further.  The role of the Sin Eater is a new concept to me, the choices of foods, how they know which to choose and what to eat was something that we barely brushed the surface of and a huge disappointment to stray so far from the topic.  The story of gods and the mention of gods is ever present in the story and a driving force for Twylla’s character and many of her actions.  And lastly the tales of children’s story books casts a dark shadow for the finale of our book.

I wasn’t completely won over by the book and as I mentioned if it wasn’t readily available in audiobook format I’m not sure if I would have continued with the story.

  1. Book summary courtesy of Melinda Salisbury’s webpage.

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