This is a quiet, historical fiction mystery book about a young girl cruelly sentenced to a life of hearing the last confessions of dying people, “eating” their sins, and bearing their guilt so their souls will go to heaven.
Fourteen year old May is orphaned and friendless. When she is sentenced to be a Sin Eater for the rest of her life, she apprentices with an older Sin Eater to learn her duties. Unable to communicate with anyone, even her mentor, May must fumble her way through her new duties. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the sin it represents, May’s mentor refuses to eat the heart and is killed. May vows to unravel the mystery of the mysterious heart and avenge the death of her mentor.
This is a much more quiet book than I usually read, but it was a nice change of pace. The story unfolds slowly, which helps build the underlying tension that May feels as she navigates her scary new world. There isn’t a lot of world building, but it’s adequate enough to let the reader understand the society in which May lives. The author does a good job of developing May’s character, although none of the other peripheral characters are developed much beyond their interactions with May. That’s ok, however, because this is May’s story.
I found the idea of sin eating fascinating, and gross. I know this book is also marketed as a fantasy book, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it one. It’s more a historical fiction mystery, so don’t let the “fantasy” label deter you from reading it.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.