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“Sin Eater takes a little-known historical role and expands it in this imaginative novel set in an alternate Elizabethan England. For stealing a loaf of bread, teenage orphan May is forced to become a sin eater—shackled with a metal collar proclaiming her status to all she meets and with a black "S" tattooed on her tongue. Shunned by society, sin eaters must only speak to the dying, who tell them their sins. Each sin corresponds with a food item—raisins for adultery, mustard seeds for lies, etc. By eating the "sins," the sin eater takes them on as their own, releasing the dead person's soul. At first distraught from the isolation and contempt her new lot in life brings, May gradually realizes that it isn't without its benefits. One of those benefits is access to the court of Queen Bethany (a thinly veiled Queen Elizabeth I), where courtesans are being murdered and accusations of witchcraft are flying. Fans of Uprooted, Spinning Silver, and Godshot will find similar themes in this fast-paced, high-stakes adventure.”Haley, Phinney Books
“A riveting depiction of hard-won female empowerment that weaves together meticulous research, unsolved murder—and an unforgettable young heroine.” —The Washington Post
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland in this gripping and imaginative historical novel about a shunned orphan girl in 16th-century England who is ensnared in a deadly royal plot and must turn her subjugation into her power.
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).
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