Sin Eater is an enthralling debut set in an alternate 16th century England. The old faith has been replaced by a new religion, but the tradition of confessing one’s sins to a Sin Eater remains.
Fourteen-year-old May has lost her mother and her beloved father and though she continues her work as a washerwoman finds the poverty and resulting hunger unbearable. She commits the crime of stealing a loaf of bread and is unfortunately caught.
To her surprise, she isn’t sentenced to death, but perhaps to a fate worse than. Her punishment is to face the remainder of her days as a Sin Eater, or an untouchable who isn’t allowed to speak except when saying the holy words to a person confessing their sins. There is a food to correspond with each sin. The Sin Eater’s job is to eat this food once the person has passed on, thereby taking their sins from them. A Sin Eater is always a woman, of course.
May finds herself as an apprentice to an older Sin Eater who is sentenced to death after refusing to eat a deer heart, as the terrible crime it represents was not among the sins the deceased confessed to. May vows to avenge her mentor’s death and discover who placed the deer heart on the coffin and for what purpose.
This was a compelling story with a protagonist who is clever, resourceful, and so very human in the most heartbreakingly beautiful way. The language was vivid without being overly descriptive and luscious. I was utterly entranced by this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC to review.
Jess Kidd’s “Things in Jars” is a dark tale spun with magic, intrigue, and a hint of the bizarre.
Bridie is a tiny, yet fierce female detective in Victorian era London. She smokes a pipe, is well-versed in human anatomy; and is often accompanied by her extraordinarily tall, bewhiskered housemaid and a mysterious ghost.
Her last case didn’t go too well, so she’s rather anxious to solve this next mystery surrounding a kidnapped girl. This girl isn’t any ordinary child though; rumor has it she’s a merrow—a creature similar to a mermaid but with needle-like teeth.
Bridie’s past returns to haunt her as she goes about attempting to retrieve the missing girl, and unearthing clues as to her true identity. At the same time, she slowly begins to piece together the identity of her faithful ghost companion who she’s rather fond of without knowing why he’s so familiar.
This book was phenomenal. Each character was brought to life in the most vivid way. I don’t know which character I loved most—Bridie, the ghost (Ruby), the housemaid (Cora), or even Prudhoe with his ravens.
It was dark and at times disturbing, but there was just enough humor and tinges of hope to make this one of those rare books that one won’t easily forget.
Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me this e-book for review purposes.
The Body in the Garden is a delightful historical mystery featuring a protagonist I loved from the first page.
Lily Adler is sharp, observant, witty, and compassionate. She is also a grieving widow in Regency era London who ends up solving a murder with the help of her friends; the charming rascal Captain Jack, and the bold and cunning Miss Oswald.
This was a time in which women had very little freedom. Lily, as a widow, is able to get away with more than most, but due to her social status decides to rely on Captain Jack perhaps more than she would like. Fortunately, he is up to the task and somehow manages to lead when it is needed but otherwise steps aside to let Lily shine.
This was just the cozy, historical mystery I’d been looking for. It’s written in a similar style as Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series. It’s full of humor and witty banter; the characters are interesting and likable; and the historical details are well-researched and add to the flavor of the whole without taking over.
The mystery definitely took a backseat to the conversations between Lily, Captain Jack, and Miss Oswald. That said, it was well executed and had me baffled up to the reveal. It’s not that I didn’t like the mystery itself, it’s just that I adored the three main characters so much that I would happily read any story featuring them.
I’m thrilled that this is to be a series. Katharine Schellman is my new favorite historical mystery author. I can’t wait for book two.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane books for giving me a free galley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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