Oh my gosh I loved this book. I loved the drama, I loved the mythology, I loved the struggle of belief. I loved the intrigue, I loved the romance, and I loved the setting. I loved the internal dialogue, though sometimes I wanted to shake Twylla. I loved everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.
First, I should let you read a synopsis from Amazon:
Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. She’s the executioner. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy 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 Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?
My husband always asks me why I like to read YA books so much. I have to point out to him that not all YA literature is as simple or as romance-concentrated as he thinks. Many authors like to deal with complex and challenging themes. This book is a perfect example.
All the reviews I’ve read agree that the writing is beautiful — it is!
However, many of the bad reviews of the book comment that they didn’t want to finish it or lost interest halfway through because the book has no plot. The book definitely has a plot and a struggle — however, it’s more internal than external.
What would you do if everything you ever thought you were was torn away from you? What if everything you stored your faith in was a lie?
I don’t want to give too much away because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I absolutely loved the struggle between belief and the imagined in this story. The mythology crafted around it was beautiful, and I especially loved the incorporation of sin eating.
Sin eating was actually a custom at many English funerals from about the 1700s through the early 1900s. I loved how the author took this custom and wove it into the mythology of the book: every item served represents a sin the individual committed and was guilty of. By viewing the funeral spread, you knew the worst things the individual had done in their life.
A few other reviewers have criticized what they call Twylla’s insta-love of another character, Lief, who is assigned to be her new guard in the first part of the book. While insta-love annoys me to no end and I’m really good at spotting it, I really feel that this was not a case of it. Twylla was suspicious of him, and, when he kept pushing her, she welcomed the attention. In a world where everyone fears you and avoids you at all costs, it must be a welcome change to have someone who doesn’t fear you at all, and I can understand why she eventually gives in to his attentions.
Even though I wanted to shake Twylla sometimes, I completely understand her actions (as I so often do the same thing). You want something to happen to make the decision for you — you don’t want to make the decision yourself.
I am really looking forward to reading The Sleeping Prince! I loved the story of the sleeping prince in the book, and I can’t wait to see how it ties into the narrative in the second volume.
Also, if you don’t already follow Melinda Salisbury, you must. Her blog is here. She is magical. How can you not love an author who thanks Jeff Goldblum in the acknowledgements of their first book — just for being Jeff Goldblum?