The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

Published: 2020 Pan Macmillan | Simon & Schuster Setting: England Genre: Fantasy
1. First lines. 2. Cover: Pan Macmillan 3. A still-life of a 16th century CE kitchen by Jacopo Chimenti. [Public Domain] via World History Encyclopedia 4. Spices. Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay 5. Mustard seeds. Image by [CC BY-SA 2.0] The image has been cropped. Source: Wikimedia 6. A Sin Eater performs his thankless job. [No known copyright restrictions] Source: omg facts
    • This is a fantasy novel inspired by the historical practice of eating bread beside a person’s coffin to absolve their sins. The author has used this to create a fantasy world, which is elaborated to include specific foods for specific sins, located in a fictional country called Angland, sharing many characteristics with Elizabethan England. Young May Owens is arrested for stealing, and her punishment is to become a sin-eater. When the Queen’s courtiers call for her services, she overhears court gossip that alludes to a terrible crime.
    • “Don’t I know by now that folk see their sins in the way they choose? There’s always a reason as to why selfishness is not really selfish and crimes are honest and waiting safely by while somefolk else is killed is really the more courageous choice.”
    • “Do you ever think we’re living the wrong life? Like if we could choose for ourselves, we’d choose better than the one we’ve got? […] But there’s not use in wishing is there?”
    • “We can make little choices. Like how we go about the day. And who we want to be like.”
    • “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.”
    • The setting and characters are depicted realistically, but I felt very confused about the mystery surrounding the conspiracies of the Royal family. I was disappointed about a few loose ends. Overall, this is an entertaining read for its originality.
    • Kirkus: “Richly imaginative and strikingly contemporary.”
    • Publishers Weekly: This spellbinding novel is a treat for fans of feminist speculative fiction.
    • New York Journal of Books: Campisi evokes a complex, vivid, barely alternate Elizabethan England. At some moments, history is in harmony with the novel; at other points, they depart one another’s company. Illiterate and alone as May is, it’s not entirely clear whether this is genuinely a different world from ours, or whether May’s take on the Reformation, on her queen, and on her society is simply a little warped. She can’t read, and she’s never been out of her tiny town. How much of the world could such a girl legitimately understand?

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