Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, Twylla isn't exactly a member of the court. She's the executioner. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla's fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy 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 Twylla's been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?
The Sin Eater's Daughter is fabulous and one of the best books I have read in 2015 so far. Immediately I fell in love with the characters, Twylla especially. Although she starts off a little meek with regards to following every royal order without much question and believing in everything that she has been told, she grows into a powerful young woman who learns to stand up for herself and those she loves. The problem is the men she loves are both hiding secrets of their own; ones which may have the power to turn everything Twylla knows upside down and leave her reeling.
The plot is an eccentric mix of fantasy, drama and whirlwind romance that left me reeling on multiple occasions. For a debut author Melinda Salisbury is a master of weaving action with deep character development. There were so many scenes that left me both breathless and filled with either sadness or joy, to the point where I was devouring page after page with little or no thought to anything else. There were so many twists and turns in this book, but at no point did they feel overused or easy to guess. The final fifty or so pages especially left me yelling 'What?!' to an empty room, and since finishing I am still calling out for answers; though in true author style she refuses to give any. It's fair to say that I literally cannot wait until I have a copy of The Sleeping Prince in my hands.
I loved both Prince Merek and Lief in their own ways, which is not typical for me. Usually in love triangles I know whose side I'm on straight away, but in this case I was left switching and swapping right until the very end. Although I now know who I'd rather Twylla end up with, I still love the other character anyway. Merek, although a Prince and potentially on the 'doesn't quite understand how the world beyond the castle works' side, is undeniably sweet at many points in the book. Though the marriage was arranged by his parents he does truly care for Twylla and is always thinking about her best interests, even in his secret keeping. Lief is more outwardly caring even though his position as Twylla's guard keeps him at a distance, but he has his own secrets to keep and a darker side that's hidden beneath his innocent exterior.
I don't think I can really say much more without spoiling anything, so I'll end simply by saying that this is a wonderful debut novel. Melinda Salisbury has not only produced a fantastically enjoyable fantasy, she has also created a novel that tackles issues such as feminism and religion, and is - despite its genre - relatable on many levels. I can't praise the book or its author enough, and am giving it a well deserved 5+ stars. I urge anyone who loves YA, fantasy, or just a riveting read, to grab a copy. I'm certain you won't regret it.
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