The Sin Eater – Megan Campisi

Published By: Mantle
Pages: 368
Date Released: 23/07/2020

A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the final private confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite, and so guarantees their souls access to heaven. It is always women who eat sins – since it was Eve who first ate the Forbidden Fruit – and every town has at least one, not that they are publicly acknowledged. Stained by the sins they are obliged to consume, the Sin Eater is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.

Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, and has never considered what it might be like to be so ostracized; she’s more concerned with where her next meal is coming from. When she’s arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, however, and subsequently sentenced to become a Sin Eater, finding food is suddenly the last of her worries.

It’s a devastating sentence, but May’s new invisibility opens new doors. And when first one then two of the Queen’s courtiers suddenly grow ill, May hears their deathbed confessions – and begins to investigate a terrible rumour that is only whispered of amid palace corridors.

Set in a thinly disguised sixteenth-century England, The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi is a wonderfully imaginative and gripping story of treason and treachery; of secrets and silence; of women, of power – and, ultimately, of the strange freedom that comes from being an outcast with no hope of redemption for, as May learns, being a nobody sometimes counts for everything.

*****

I wasn’t sure what I thought of this book whilst I was reading it, and even after I’d finished, I still wasn’t sure. At first I found it very uncomfortable to read, but given the storyline (I won’t give it away), I guess that was the objective, so I applaud Megan Campisi for that. We can feel May’s struggle and can relate to it.

But once it got started, I found it became a bit too confusing. There were too many characters and storylines that went off in a tangent, I was struggling to keep atop of who was who and what were they doing and how that related to the main sin eating storyline.

But I decided that I’d read that much, I would continue through to the end and hope that things come to nice, neat end. However, even after I’d finished it, I still couldn’t tell you who the characters were in relation to each other, or, honestly, what actually happened.

I was disappointed with this as I had read such good reviews of it and it was such a promising premise. I didn’t even know that sin eating was a real ritual, and the Wikipedia (gasp!) page is a great starting point to find out more. In fact, I’d say the Wikipedia page is marginally more exciting.

Alas, this was not the book for me.

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