Review by Vanessa K. Eccles
The Sin Eater follows the story of May, a fourteen-year-old girl who receives the ultimate punishment for stealing bread. She’s cursed as a sin eater.
The story is fascinating with its unique, unfiltered descriptions. Much like a piece of traditional folklore, it takes the reader to a different (albeit familiar) time and place where the world has another set of rules. People must confess their sins to the sin eater, a woman who must then eat their sins and carry them as her own. It’s a folksy-type of narrative with vivid language and religious undertones. I enjoyed how Campisi used slight dialect and careful phrasing to set the tone and embed readers in the world of the novel.
Though I found myself intrigued, I kept wishing I’d connect deeper with the main character, but I ultimately felt like a spectator rather than an engaged, active participant in the story. And though the beginning started strong, the middle suffered some pacing issues. Still, I appreciated that this was not like any other book I’d ever read.
If you love folklore and historical settings, this book is worth reading. I hope to see more of these types of stories come into the market.
Sin Eater has been compared to Alice in Wonderland and The Handmaid’s Tale. I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale, so I can’t speak to the likeness, but I saw no similarities to Alice in Wonderland.
Overall, I liked the book and was glad to have read it. The cover and words within are captivating and original, which I appreciated most.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for sharing an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.