Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland in this gripping and imaginative historical novel about a shunned orphan girl in 16th-century England who is ensnared in a deadly royal plot and must turn her subjugation into her power.
The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.
For the crime of stealing bread, fourteen-year-old May receives a life sentence: she must become a Sin Eater—a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.
Orphaned and friendless, apprenticed to an older Sin Eater who cannot speak to her, May must make her way in a dangerous and cruel world she barely understands. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the dreadful sin it represents, the older Sin Eater refuses to eat it. She is taken to prison, tortured, and killed. To avenge her death, May must find out who placed the deer heart on the coffin and why. (publisher)
The book is set in a fictional sort of Elizabethan England kinda world. I mean the queen is called Bethany and her predecessor Maris, a new religion has replaced the old one. You get the idea. I think I spent too much time thinking who this court lady is supposed to be in real life… The set up was interesting but weird. I had not heard of Sin Eaters before so I had to do some googling and apparently, the role existed but very little is known about it.
The story is told by May’s point of view as she tries to adjust to her new life as a Sin Eater and being shunned by everyone. And it’s such a dark and lonely life when you’re not allowed to even speak. Basically, all you do is hear people reciting their sins before they die and then you eat the food that symbolizes the confessed sins. And there’s court intrigue where May gets involved and needs to uncover.
It was a well-written and imaginative story. May was a likable character who was determined to uncover the mystery. Since she can’t talk and doesn’t know how to read, she has to learn all by herself which was interesting. I didn’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. And that’s in a good way.
What a great debut! I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading more from the author. And I think the cover is cool.
Published: Atria Books (April 7, 2018)