(Review) Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

sin eater
Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. April 7, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction, dystopian, 16th century England.
Pages: 304.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers who are looking for a heavy story with unique elements.
Rating: Excellent.

 
Amazon link 

Barnes and Nobles link

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Megan Campisi is a playwright, novelist, and teacher. Her plays have been performed in China, France, and the United States. She attended Yale University and the L’École International de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. The author of Sin Eater, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
Megan Campisi website
Goodreads author page

Another review: Kirkus Reviews

Summary:
“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.”

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.

“A keenly researched feminist arc of unexpected abundance, reckoning, intellect, and ferocious survival” (Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Mere Wife) SIN EATER is “a dark, rich story replete with humor, unforgettable characters, and arcane mysteries. It casts a spell on your heart and mind until the final page” (Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters). For fans of The Essex Serpent and Red Clocks, SIN EATER is an inventive exploration of history and womanhood in the 16th century with a dystopian and eerily contemporary feminist twist.

Have you heard of the old custom of a Sin Eater? I read a book several years ago, The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers. This was my first introduction about this strange custom.
A few links about the history of a Sin Eater:
Hub Pages—watch for the popups
Gizmodo

My Thoughts:
I was drawn to the book because of the interesting subject and the front cover.
In this book, the Sin Eater is always female. In the true history of Sin Eaters, they were both male and female. So, this story adds an element of feminism.
The book is considered dystopian. It is a world unjust in the treatment of a young girl. This was another added tweak to the story.
I saw similarities to the Elizabethan world of England, 1558-1603. I may be wrong but the queen in the story reminds me of Elizabeth I.
The element of plot, and the themes in the story are creative and bold. I love this.
I was drawn immediately to the main character, May Owens. At a young age her world is turned upside down. She has a strong personality that others do not like. This places her in a unique situation because of the strength of her person and the punishment that robs her of the way she expresses herself. In addition, she is an extrovert and is now considered cursed and repulsive by people. I love her character and story, and this was the most important reason that I continued to read. I had to know what was going to happen to this young girl.
This is a heavy story. I’ve mentioned the different elements. In addition, it is a story where most of the conversations we hear is May’s thoughts. This made for a lonely feeling. A feeling of isolation which is an added burden for the heavy atmosphere of the story.
May is a classic heroine. She is a strong character (not perfect), but given her situation she rises above it to become a stronger and better person. This is my favorite reason why I loved this story!

 

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