My rating: 2 of 5 stars
2.5 instead of 2. Twylla is a young woman plucked from her agrarian background to serve as courtier & embodiment of the goddess Daunen at the royal palace. Familiar with the myths as a former sin-eater-in-training, she allows herself to be swept up in the pageantry of court only to find that she is meant to serve as Executioner & as a tool of the Queen’s “divine” power. Betrothed to a prince she barely knows & isolated from all other attendants due to her physical manifestations of the divine, Twylla finds herself suddenly questioning what she knows when a new guard from another land is assigned to her retinue.
So I picked up this book because the title interested me: the mythological concept of sin-eating is something I’ve enjoyed exploring since I came across the idea as a kid reading tons of fantasy & supernatural stories. Unfortunately, my curiosity did not bear fruit. Salisbury has some interesting elements here that normally would hit all my interests: lands where magic & science compete & the corresponding degree of technology to each, notable intersections of faith, duty, desire, & physicality, and the struggle to remake one’s self after understanding that basic truths about your world are wrong. If you’re someone who has grown up in a strict religion or isolated from mainstream society or in an environment that emphasizes control or expression through food or other physical needs, some of this book might hit home for you.
But then the love triangle Twylla finds herself in takes over & I got bored real fast. Much like what I’ve read of the Grisha series so far, there is a really evocative world built around these characters with a healthy dose of paranoia & cautious discovery mixed in that makes the possibilities set up in the story seem immediate & boundless. And while there are some great opportunities to explore relationships & power here, it all eventually comes down to which boy will our heroine pick. And guess what?! She gets an ending where she keeps both of them in her life. Sigh. Sure. Twylla literally has no shred of her former life or skill set remaining but let’s make sure she gets a really cute boy or two out of it.
There is another book in the series & looking at the Goodreads reviews for that one, it’s supposed to be better than this. I might end up reading it eventually, but this first book has squandered any interest I had left over.