The Sin Eater - Megan Campisi (ARC)
Updated: May 5, 2020
"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 final private confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite, and guarantees their souls access to heaven.
It is always women who eat sins – a punishment, for it was Eve who first ate the Forbidden Fruit. 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 when she’s arrested for stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to become a Sin Eater.
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 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 . . ."
I received this ARC for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Megan Campisi, Mantle and Pan Macmillan for accepting my request to review! The Sin Eater will be published on the 23rd July 2020.
Trigger Warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape
In The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi we follow the life of May Owens in sixteenth century England. After her parents death she is left to fend for herself. One day she is caught stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to become a sin eater. Cursed to forever eat the sins of those on their deathbed, everyone scared of her touch and forbidden to speak outside of her duties. She gets swept up in a conspiracy in the Queen's court and is the only one who can investigate what is really happening.
Sin eating is a ritual based on what existed in England until roughly a century ago. A sin eater was a person who consumed a ritual meal in order to spiritually take on the sins of a deceased person. The food was believed to absorb the sins and absolve the soul of a person. This book really inspired me to research and learn even more about this strange custom as the only time I had ever heard of a sin eater was during an episode of Lucifer and it was so interesting. I found that there have been many instances of sin eaters throughout history and religion. I wish this was taught in our history classes!
May was a really fun character to read - she's talkative, smart and it's sad to see all of this taken away from her as she becomes a sin eater. Throughout the book I kept forgetting just how young she was, her whole childhood was stolen from her. Before being sentenced, she was always worried about being a 'good girl' and doing what she was told, it was great to see her eventually reject the antiquated gender roles that were forced on her and decide to do whatever she wants. If she's going to be carrying everybody else's sins she may as well add some of her own. It's ironic that her prison has allowed her to be able to relish in a newfound sense of freedom. Plus, a great bonus to now being a social pariah means that it is easier for her to sneak about unnoticed.
I really enjoyed the parallels with English history all throughout the book. The references to King Henry VIII and the struggles between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots were all really well done as well as the war between Catholics and Protestants. This was a really fascinating time in England and mixed with the fiction from this book it made a terrific read!
The Sin Eater was a really entertaining and clever story and I loved reading every minute of it!
Thank you again to NetGalley, Megan Campisi, Mantle and Pan Macmillan for the ARC and if you're interested in this book, it will be published on the 23rd July 2020. It can be found on GoodReads and is available to preorder on Amazon! I've also added this review to the May Link Up on Lovely Audiobooks - check out the link to read some great reviews!