Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.
Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girl she truly is.
Yet in a court as dangerous as the queen’s, some truths should not be told…
I’d only read about a chapter of The Sin Eater’s Daughter before it was side-lined to the TBR shelf (to join the other partially started novels), and I hadn’t thought of reading it again until I spotted its sequel, The Sleeping Prince. More inclined to finish it with the prospect of a sequel (provided the first one was any good), I got stuck back in.
It ticks all the boxes for a typical high fantasy novel with its medieval-style royal court, hunts, feasts, and historical conflict…and although this is undoubtedly what saw it sitting on my TBR shelf for as long as it had (I prefer urban fantasy), the world Melinda creates is definitely captivating. Every town and character has been fleshed-out with a detailed backstory that contribute to the story of the protagonist, without being so complicated as to confuse the reader.
That being said, I was a little…displaced, where the novel starts strong with some good areas of conflict, with the queen, and the role Twyella plays in the Kingdom, but it all falls quickly into your typical love-triangle type scenario, with the queen seemingly disappearing from the pages. The Queen and Twylla’s mother are both formidable characters in the book, described as being similar in their need for power, and both favouring manipulation to achieve it. I’d have preferred them to possess some redeeming qualities to allow for more depth of character (no villain should be two-dimensional, after all) but on the plus side, the ‘good’ characters were shown to have some conflicting character traits. (I was, for example, intrigued by Merek’s feelings for Twyella. Describing her at one point as his salvation, I had to wonder if he truly saw her as a love interest, or an merely an escape route?)
If I had to hazard a guess as to Melinda’s writing inspiration I’d definitely go with Angela Carter, what with some interesting descriptors and themes that have a very Angela Carter feel to them. Take the queen’s dogs, for example.
The smell of the dogs fills the hall, musky and rancid with meat and death. The dogs dislike dead flesh. They prefer to eat the life from their victims as they pull them down, and are always eager to hunt.
And the somewhat grotesque figure of Twylla’s mother.
A fat woman, made large from gobbling the sins of the dead.
So if that’s your sort of thing, this book will be right up your street.
There are some unexpected and interesting plot developments that make the novel well worth the read, although there had been a sticking point for me – how it was that some characters could believe one thing to be fictitious, while believing something else that seemed equally unrealistic, to be true? (Hopefully you’ll see what I mean if you decide to read it, as it relates to the title character of the sequel.) And then there’s the epilogue, where Twylla acknowledges ‘stories of old,’ where knights would kill dragons and rescue princesses – claiming not to live in such stories herself. Is this to suggest she was responsible for saving herself in the end? Or that she’d had no prince to save her? Without trying to give too much away, I’d say it was a bit of both (and it wasn’t until I read the beginning of the epilogue that I started to consider exactly how much of the story consisted of Twylla being a passive protagonist)
But overall, I considered the plot twists and world-building of the novel good enough to warrant buying The Sleeping Prince, so I’m giving The Sin Eater’s Daughter: