So who is The Sin Eater? Twylla's mom, who comes to the palace in Lormere every once in a while to have a giant feast of human flesh in order for them to go up to heaven and pray to the Gods, society's last form of mercy. At age six, Twylla left her obese mom in order to work at the palace under the queen's ruling. When the people realize she is immune to all sorts of poison, they realize her touch is lethal and she has the power, even curse, to kill with a single touch, and she uses this touch to execute people who oppose the queen and are captured. This gives Twylla the nickname "Daunen Embodied". Also, whenever there's a hunt, she's the one who sings at the events. Then one day, her bodyguard Dorin gets a really bad bee sting and she gets a new bodyguard named Lief who seems...charming. And smart. And knowing, as in, smart about things that might actually hold the truth to the world, about the Gods, about the myth of the Sleeping Prince, the prince who was, well, cursed to sleep until a soul was brought back when the stars were aligned, yeah.
So, to be fair my first experience with this book was pretty unpleasant. There is a character that Twylla cares about so much and thinks about for a long part of the story that dies off too early for us to feel the same way. The writing around this world is also pretty questionable. For example, Merek says, "You were the first child I ever saw, save for my sister." (90) Okay, this doesn't make sense. And how can Merek have first seen Twylla? Did he not see any other child until Twylla came to the palace at the age of six moons, three moons younger than him? Does the palace not have any other children? Then, in describing the world, Lief says, "The land is governed by the lords who sit on the Privy Council." (95) The Privy Council?? When the prince says, "My name is Merek," I kept thinking, "Okay. Twylla thinks of that name but she'd already heard the name. She points the name out. She describes how it feels to say it. Apparently she can't call him anything but "Your Majesty" unless they are due to be together, and before that she couldn't even visualize the name through her tongue. And I thought Lief was the prince. Who's who????" There are also too many moments where the love is overcomplicated and then zips into forgiveness way too fast. And before this forgiveness, the characters unreasonably hold one another down for something they didn't really have any power over. The book is also loaded with C'mON lines. A character we root for says, "Marry you or die? How am I supposed to answer that?" That's about the rudest thing anyone could ever say and was completely out of place. And "Protect me? Why would you want to protect me?" Lief asks this to Twylla when it's obvious. I have other examples from bookmarking the book but I won't show them off, it's not necessary. You get the point, I felt the book was messy.
Also, the plot feels set up to be another Shatter Me but this time without the chases or progress. This book is loaded with talks about war and aggression between the Tregellians but never speaks up about it. Even The Selection series had some action moments to keep us on our toes. I believe that since this is going to be a trilogy, Melinda Salisbury goes back on the main character a little too early and without doing enough to make us feel like her touch is really dangerous. She performs her magic but not enough times for it to be warranted as being a major plotline. She requires protection, but it's never really clear why. In Itch Rocks, one of my all time favourite books, the main character earned a similar form of protection, but there were times where he was targeted that we witness and not only does it generate early excitement but it lets us understand and appreciate the escorts. With The Sin Eater's Daughter, it feels like there was a prequel novella we were supposed to read first, especially concerning Tyrek's overly small storyline. Near the end, there is a minor mystery and facts come back to us that will delight people who have the ability to pay attention through the whole book, but after everything it's pretty evident who the greedy one is, and for me the pieces I missed until Twylla put them together on her own. There's also a side story about Twylla protecting her family that takes a backseat when she discusses things with Lief, and that side story was one I wish Twylla talked about more rather than what they were talking about.
Salisbury also used ideas of marriage that are pretty much just disgusting, don't make sense biologically or emotionally, and result in some moments between families that just feels sad when you think about the side stories of growing up that undeniably have to be in there somewhere within the story.
Okay, so, how did it end? The ending is usually the most important part of the whole book, how to disclose all of the events, what we'll remember the strongest out of the whole book, and how desperate we will probably be to read the next instalment if this is a series, which it is. It had opportunities and potential for a good cliffhanger, but the epilogue is one of the worst examples for a conclusion I've read in some time. I was interested in the queen and the folklore depicted. It showed promise of some tense next instalments and a fierce antagonist. Though we still might get that (I haven't read the other book yet) the epilogue prevented my expectations from getting up higher than just a little. Melinda Salisbury should be thankful she chose the title she chose for the next instalment. The epilogue prevented the main antagonist of this book from really biting and put up a time lapse the other potential cliffhanger doesn't deserve.
Something good in all this is once we actually understand who Lief and Merek are, supposedly, there is room for a little fun being in conflicts with the two guys. And in comparison to other books I've read this year that I've hated, this is a short one, preventing it from being a total endurance test. Also, the idea of Eating is, well, disturbing but original. Cannibals will love this book, and I might have liked it more if I wasn't in a tough situation and upset about work when I read this, but
The Sin Eater's Daughter is a very bad book, but in all fairness, it's also a memorable one. Will reluctant readers be invested in this? I don't think so. I have about twelve other books to read right now, and will I add the next book, The Sleeping Prince, to it? I don't think so about that either. As someone who was interested in the love triangle, it pains me a little to give it this grade, but there it is.