A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy. Sixteen-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?
Gorgeous cover aside, I did not love this book. I really wanted to! It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t quite what I expected and there were too many elements that rubbed me the wrong way to truly enjoy it. The story itself actually touched on some fascinating topics, but I found the characters lacked depth and the story left me wanting more.
We first meet Twylla in the castle of the kingdom of Lormere. She is the goddess-embodied, which essentially means she is the reincarnation of the goddess Daunen. She is able to drink Morningsbane and kill those who have committed treason with a mere touch. Now she is in the castle, but previously Twylla was living her life at home as the daughter of the Sin Eater. I was actually fascinated by the concept of a Sin Eater and had a lot of fun researching the history of this tradition. A Sin Eater eats a feast after someone has died as a way to cleanse their soul. While being the daughter of a Sin Eater certainly helped define Twylla’s character, I failed to see the significance of this fact in the greater story.
So…Twylla. Honestly Twylla was an empty shell for most of the book. She finally gains some spunk towards the end when she decides to take control of her destiny. I guess the explanation for her generally subordinate behavior and lack of enthusiasm can be explained by her rigid lifestyle, but it didn’t help me like Twylla all that much. She seems to have no feelings or desires about…well about anything. Until her love interest comes along, then suddenly she is in LOVE and that’s all that matters.
While I normally love romances, I had issues with the romance in this story. First, her romance with Lief was too insta-lovey for me. It seemed like they were just getting to know each other and BAM, I love you’s were shared. Then there is Merek, I actually really enjoyed Merek’s character even if I am still skeptical of his actions. He seems a little too good-hearted you know? The Merek-Leif-Twylla love triangle wasn’t awful, especially because she wasn’t really ever vying for both boys at once. I think I was mostly bothered how much her life revolved around both of them. There is one point later in the book where Twylla finally says something like “I will choose my destiny because I deserve what’s best” (I’m paraphrasing) but finally I was like YES Twylla! Finally you are standing up for yourself!
I know I’ve been critiquing this book a lot but there were aspects that I enjoyed. I mentioned above that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought I was picking up a high fantasy and while it was…I wasn’t expecting the fascinating commentary on religion and religious traditions. I won’t say too much about this because it is a fairly large part of the plot, but know that it was a clever plot device and I was happy with how the story unfolded.
While there were definitely some good parts of this story and I enjoyed the world-building, I have to say I am disappointed with this story. I’m not sure if I will read the second book soon…but if you think I should by all means tell me why! What did you guys think of the Sin-Eater’s Daughter?