Monday, July 20, 2015
The Sin Eater's Daughter
Twylla isn't like other seventeen year old girls; she's the embodiment of the daughter of her people's gods. She ingests poison at regular intervals mixed with her blood to prove her divinity and keep her powers that allow her to kill people with a touch. Her origins are much humbler than her present life. Her mother was a Sin Eater, one who eats a feast representative of the deceased's sins in order to purge them and allow the dead into the afterlife. Her whole childhood was taking care of her sister and learning to be the next Sin Eater. Now, Twylla lives a rich, but lonely life with the king and queen of Lormere. The queen is cruel, irrational, and volatile. She kills at a whim and manipulates those around her into silence. Because of her abilities, almost everyone fears Twylla and stays away from her. She's set to marry the prince who she barely knows and eventually rule her country as its queen. Then she meets Lief, her new personal guard. He treats her like a normal person and they quickly becomes close. Who will she choose? Will she abandon her destiny to have the life she really wants or will she attempt to save Loremere?
The first thing that drew me to this book was the gorgeous cover. The second was the cool premise. Twylla (I kind of hate this name) is the embodiment of the offspring of her gods, which is kind of complicated. The gods are the embodiment of day (Daeg) and night (Naegt), where the female night steals from the day out of jealousy. She commits the first sin and must be punished. Although it reflects many real life religions, the misogynistic myth bothered me, especially when the two main mother figures (and 2/3's of the main female characters) are one dimensionally awful and cruel. Anuway, Twylla has dedicated her life to the gods and, by extension, to the royal family who claim to be chosen by the gods. Underneath her piety and dedication, she's just a teenage girl. She wants normal things like friends, a real family, and a life she actually wants to lead. All of her life, her mother figures have told her what to do. Her biological mother chose her as the first born to take up the mantle as a Sin Eater. When presented with the opportunity, Twylla chose to abandon her family and become Daunen Embodied, but once there, the queen's whims command what she does: who to poison, who to marry, where to go, etc. It's only natural that Twylla falls for one of the first people to treat her like anyone else and see through all the craziness.
Much of the book was quite atheistic which is pretty rare to see in teen fiction. Lief points out how his country values science and logic over religious fairy tales. They are more technologically advanced and have made more advances in medicine than Loremere has dreamed of. Loremere's royal family uses religion to placate the masses and solidify her place as ruler. Things were going terribly when the queen's brother/husband died and she saw Twylla as a away to legitimize her place by citing the gods' will in Daunen Embodied. There's this whole weird thing with Loremere where the bloodline must be pure and siblings have married for years and years. It's convenient that the royal family has no physical defects after generations of inbreeding. This part seemed a little clunky and I felt it was only included to ride on the popularity of Game of Thrones with their incestuous Lannister family. Anyway, I appreciated that religion is used for a sinister end here and shows that the religious leaders aren't exempt from committing horrible acts. This is especially relevant today.
Overall, The Sin Eater's Daughter is an interesting book that takes on unique subject matter and explores different themes than usual in YA. I dislike the misogynistic elements of the book and I also hate that this interesting story boils down to a love triangle. It's such an overused trope at this point and it takes away from the novel. I would definitely read other books by Melinda Salisbury because the things I liked left an impression.
My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins