A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Sin Eater's Daughter is a romantic fantasy with an all-too-typical heroine who lets others define her, has little to offer beyond looks and talent, and waits to be rescued. The overall atmosphere is fairly dark, and the threat of death by violent means (poisoning, being eaten by dogs) looms over everything. Physical violence is rare and not gory, but blood's described in detail once and mentioned a few other times. There's some kissing, and one or two descriptions include details with tongues. The narrator has sex, but it's not directly narrated. "Slut" is used once, and "whore" twice. Characters frequently drink wine, usually with meals but sometimes to calm themselves, and drinking brandy to calm the nerves is mentioned a couple of times.
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What's the story?
As the daughter of her kingdom's Sin Eater (responsible for taking away the sins of the dead so they can reach the afterlife), Twylla spent her childhood learning her mother's trade, preparing to take on the role herself one day. Then, when Twylla was 13, the queen appeared at her door and offered her the chance to leave her unhappy home and live in the castle as the embodiment of the gods and the future wife of the prince. But palace life isn't everything she dreamed it would be: Her role means that her skin is toxic and will kill anyone who touches her in a matter of moments. And not even poison skin can protect her from the power-hungry queen, who'll stop at nothing to bring about a Golden Age during her reign. Now, four years later, Twylla is 17 and her marriage to the prince is imminent. Enter Lief, the handsome new guard assigned to protect her. Lief is from another kingdom, and as they get to know each other Twylla starts to question all her long-held beliefs. As the queen's plans to consolidate power and start a war come to fruition, can Twylla and Lief escape to live the quiet life of their dreams together?
Is it any good?
With THE SIN EATER'S DAUGHTER, debut novelist Melinda Salisbury creates a vividly detailed, deliciously dark, rich fantasy world that immediately draws the reader in. She keeps the pages turning with a steadily building plot that sometimes surprises but is more often predictable. Salisbury finds a compelling voice for her heroine, with prose that occasionally soars, such as "delicate fingers of autumn stroking the edges of the shadows." But the third act descends into more classic, bodice-ripper-style (read "cheesy") dialogue that will no doubt make romance lovers swoon but keeps the novel from elevating itself beyond genre fiction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why romantic fantasies are so popular. Why do we love them so much?
How does Twylla compare to other heroines in books you've read? Do you sympathize with her and her situation? Do you think she's a strong heroine?
Would you rather live in Lormere or Tregallan? Why? How are the two societies different?
- Author: Melinda Salisbury
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Fairy tales
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: February 24, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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