An old adage says there are really only two stories: a man goes on a voyage, and a stranger arrives in town. This is the third: a woman breaks the rules . . .
Can you uncover the truth when you’re forbidden from speaking it?
A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite. Stained by these sins, she is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.
Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, only 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.
I was so excited to have the opportunity to read The Sin Eater prior to today’s release, as well as sharing my review today on the publication day! Thankyou Rosie at Mantle Books for sending me out a proof copy to read it was the spectacular read I thought it was going to be! If you fancy yourself a copy, you can grab one here today in celebration of it’s publication! The Sin Eater is Megan Campisi’s debut novel and it’s one of my favourite reads of the year so far, keep reading to find out why – but I am so happy that it is finally out in the world where people can read it and I can talk to them about it.
The Sin Eater begins with a provocative menu of sins, each human sin is given a food, then when an individual is on their deathbed it was believed if they recited their life’s sins to a sin eater they would be abolished and in death would be reunited with ‘The Maker’. This debut novel revolves around May after she is given the outcaste role of a sin eater as punishment of petty crime, anything is better than the death penalty…. right? May has been raised in a volatile setting, historically during a time where religion and superstition flooded people’s lives, where everyone was born with sins – some sins more frowned upon than others but due to the tightened religious grip on society and it’s relationship to how women were viewed in that era. For example, women were viewed as the daughters of the mother of Sin – Eve and expected to become the consumers and carriers of others Sins, expected to be an unseen and an unspoken, it’s hugely plausible.
The Sin Eater concept was derived from the folklore that a sin-eater would save the dying not only from hell, but also from wandering the earth as a ghost. The sin-eater is usually associated with the British Isles, but there are analogous customs in other cultures as well. It’s not like anything that I have ever read before and it’s a dazzling debut, so stunningly written with an atmosphere that fully draws you into the novel’s concept.
Our protagonist is May, a young girl with gloomy beginnings in life who radiates a sort of profound loneliness who lives in a world where she has no place, no connections and no understanding about where she connects when it comes to family ties. As the storyline begins to evolve, I got a sense that May was discovering her own feet while also finding her voice in a setting that blocks out not only the voices of the Sin Eaters, but also of women. May is identifiable on so many personal levels, her childlike vulnerability and fear that develops into strength as her journey to learn the trade of sin eating is noticeable and applaudable.
Along with The Sin Eater being a spectacularly written historical fiction, it’s also one that has a deadly mystery flowing through it, one concerning a royal scandal. Only she, using her powers of being on the outskirts of society; unseen and unheard, can get to the bottom of it. The whole storyline is intoxicatingly captivating, atmospheric and a read that you will not be able to put down – with its foodie chapter titles, writing and creativity injected by Megan Campisi, this is going to be a book that any reader, especially fans of historical fiction will love!
Thanks again to Rosie for speedily sending me out a proof review copy, it’s brilliant!
Until next time,