⇒“No curse can harm me. I am a curse.” –Sin Eater by Megan Campisi ⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Author: Megan Campisi
(3.94 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fantasy Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 7, 2020, by Atria Books
Pages: 304 (Kindle version)
Don’t I know by now that folk see their sins in the way they choose?
This is a book perfect for times such as this. Not just because we’re all stuck inside and we can finally read more of the books on our TBR that have been waiting patiently for us to find the time for them. But also because… well, I’ll tell you why, but let’s check out the blurb first…
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.
…the more you live, the more the sinner and the saint can’t be pulled apart. All of us just getting by.
So, that’s the blurb – only, I don’t like that blurb entirely. It doesn’t tell the whole story. And believe me, I know how that sounds. It’s a blurb, for the whole story you would read the book. The blurb gives us the high points, but May’s story is about so much more.
It’s the story about how lives can change in the blink of an eye. We can all relate to that right now. It’s also the story about making the best of those changes and creating a life out of the nothingness that some circumstances bring. Events are happening all around May that she has absolutely no control over. They cause her to grow up fast and to make certain decisions to preserve her own life. If that isn’t a book for today, then I don’t know what is.
I don’t know how to sort this mess. The ways I’ve tried have only put me in danger.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is fantasy historical fiction and expertly done. The action begins almost immediately and doesn’t slow. Well, I don’t mean like car chases or epic battles; this action was a game of survival and a battle of wits. This is May’s war – a little girl against her world.
This isn’t the rosy story of a cute little girl rising above her troubles on the wings of a magnetic personality and some dedicated friends. No. This is more like a pariah being stripped of everything that makes sense to her who is then only offered hell and chooses to survive through it all by any means necessary. It is dark, it is creepy, it’s about eating food over a corpse. That’s not a pleasant subject, but it is a really good book!
Megan Campisi is a playwright, novelist and teacher. Her plays have performed in China, France and the United States. She has been a forest ranger, sous chef in Paris and a physical theater specialist around the world. Originally from California, she attended Yale University and the L’École International de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family. -bio from Goodreads