Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5/5 stars Series: Yes - first book of trilogy
Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner. As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies – a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
It’s been over two years since I last read this book, and I wish I’d come back to it sooner. I looked on Goodreads and found another pathetic existing review:
A wonderful book, with twists and a clever take on old tales. Thought provoking over the topic of control and identity.
Seriously, why could past-me never made it past 100 characters? There is so much more than this snippet of nothingness.
Obviously, the twists no longer surprise me. This is my third or fourth read and I have a pretty good memory once I start. However, Twylla’s reactions hit me in the gut every time. Even though I know she’s going to feel X, I still feel all the emotions. If that isn’t good story telling, then I don’t know what is.
I’m still rooting for her to succeed, for X to happen even though I know what’s coming. And her emotions come across as strongly and as visceral as they did the first time.
Leif and Twylla’s chemistry also remains toe-curlingly delightful. If you’re looking for a cute couple whose relationship builds slowly and believably, and who don’t dissolve into simpering messes but retain their own minds, then look no further. Merek is nice, but in this book he does not hold a candle to Leif.
As for the clever take on old tales, the Pied Piper always creeped me out, and this series just cements my unending dislike for guys who play flutes to lure rats away. It’s not the focus of the story but blended so well into the background mythos that it’s just lurking at the back of your awareness until it’s vital to the plot. I love being able to pick apart all the hints and foreshadowing.
Helwys is such a good antagonist, her presence felt everywhere, leaching from the pages. It’s such an insidious mixture of outright cruelty and subtle manipulation. I don’t want to say much, but the way control and identity are woven is so through-provoking because it deals with the many layers of manipulation.
Of course, no Melinda Salisbury review is complete without mentioning the cover. How does she get beautiful covers every single time?
And onwards to the next book, THE SLEEPING PRINCE!
Read my reviews of other books by Melinda Salisbury
The Sin Eater’s Daughter (this series):
- THE SLEEPING PRINCE (#2)
- THE SCARECROW QUEEN (#3)
- THE HEART COLLECTOR AND OTHER STORIES (Short stories)
State of Sorrow: