Melinda’s twisting gothic fantasy debut has been one of the most anticipated UKYA releases of the year for quite a while now. Promising passion, darkness and political intrigue, its set to be the first in a hotly received trilogy that should set hearts racing and minds turning.
Twylla is the embodiment of a goddess, Daunen, the daughter of the son and the moon. It’s her destiny to marry a prince, to become a queen of Lormere and to rule as one of the most powerful people in the world. What more could any young woman hope for? A life of wealth and tranquillity as a member of the last great royal family? But Twylla’s life isn’t that simple – or tranquil, because being Daunen embodied means she carries within her the poisonous ability to kill with a single touch. A single moment of skin to skin contact with anyone not of royal blood will end in an agonising death. It’s these horrific powers that give Twylla her other purpose in the court – as executioner. Anyone who commits high treason, or even displeases the current queen, is sentenced to death at the instantly lethal touch of the goddess embodied. Twylla is less a princess-in-waiting and more a toxic weapon of a powerful, authoritarian monarchy, and it’s a lonely, miserable existence – No-one wants to be within arm’s reach of the palace’s most potent weapon. Even the guards who are with her every moment of her life keep her at a distance, staying cold and unemotional towards the teenager prisoner. Until her new guard arrives. Lief comes from a neighbouring country, one without any dogmatic religion or all-powerful monarchy – and one where questioning the norms is embraced instead of a death sentence. He’s outspoken and brash, caring little for the tired old traditions of Lomere’s court, and he has the audacity to be drawn towards this mysterious and highly dangerous young woman he’s charged with protecting. Twylla is fascinated by her new companion, finally sharing her singular existence with someone who isn’t terrified of her, who’ll tell her stories of the world outside the palace. As the two of them grow closer, the snaking politics of the palace’s court start to pulse with unease, and the Queen begins to grow ever more forceful and brutal in her rule. Twylla can’t be with anyone but the prince, Dorian. But her heart yearns for freedom.
Well, one thing I will say about The Sin Eater’s Daughter is that Melinda has a real passion for her characters, and Twylla in particular is dark, moody and yet innocent and naïve all at once. She takes on her responsibility as court appointed executioner resolutely, but with a heavy heart, and her hatred of what she does stops her from losing her humanity. The whole story is told from her perspective, and that lends the reader her lonely melancholy and frustration as she describes a wider world that she’s only ever heard of. We want to see more of this fantastical, slightly old and antiquated country that seems to lurk just outside of the stories pages, teasing us with years of bloody, brutal history. Lief’s scepticism was an aspect of his character that I really enjoyed too, and hearing him champion reason and logic over the thoughts of Gods and magical poisons was especially refreshing in a Fantasy novel setting. His devil-may-care charm and recklessness make him a fun character too, although his unpredictability later in the book make him seem dangerous as opposed to simply mischievous, and he develops in unexpected ways.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter is beautifully written, and Melinda has a serious talent for descriptive, rich and textured language use. The whole book is full of gorgeous analogies and short passages that describe the world around her characters absolutely brilliantly. I think the only thing I didn’t get on with in the story was the romance aspect – which anyone who knows me will not be surprised. I don’t get on well with strong romantic themes, and in this book, it’s probably the central driving point of the story. Whilst I couldn’t get on board with it, it isn’t badly written in the slightest, and the character’s passions are written with real energy and heat that I could absolutely appreciate. Melinda taps into the lust that comes with first loves really well, and as the relationship develops and begins to find new layers, it becomes darker, and that was something that I started to enjoy more. The end of The Sin Eater’s Daughter starts to bring in bigger supernatural themes, tapping into folklore and original aspects of fairy tales with an enchantingly dark twist, and it’s something that I really wanted to see more of. I suppose this is the first book in a trilogy, so she’s keeping her big reveal for the next book, but she tantalisingly teases out the implications and promises a horrible, dark and unrelenting change in pace for her second instalment. Much like Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I’m fully expecting the next book to be a full on riot of powerful drama and breath taking fantasy that uses The Sin Eater’s Daughter as the building blocks to an epic series.
Thanks for reading, everyone!
You can buy The Sin Eater’s Daughter here.
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