Here I am, once again, with mini reviews. This time, I am here with a few books that I read last month, it wasn’t a great number and I am not unhappy about that. This year, more than other years, has been more of a roller coaster as far as my reading mood is concerned. That I am reading at all is always a blessing.
So, here are the three books I read recently.
Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
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.
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.
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.
For a story that had such a potential to become so much more, I feel a bit let down when I didn’t fall in love with it. The history of this concept is so fascinating and a bit creepy but religion doesn’t flourish without a little bit of scary concepts. In any case, because of this book, I read up a bit on this weird tradition because I frankly hadn’t heard about it before.
The story revolves around a fourteen year old girl who steals a bread and then is forced into becoming a sin eater. May is then forced to go to dying people’s houses and sit at their beds and listen to their sins and secrets. She’s not quite happy with this turn of events as before she used to be fairly free, just in need of some familial love and a bit understanding. After, she’s left with a collar on her neck and S branded on her tongue to show the society exactly what she is.
Her struggles are real and I could feel for her and I think that’s what saved the story a lot. May herself is a great character, not a happy one or even one that would be tolerable for long but that’s what makes her a great character. She has innocence and no guile to guide her tongue, which partly brings her to her fate, if I am being honest. She’s not completely at an age where she understands how things work in life either, it made for a frustrating time for me but it was a good way to handle her age and her possible autism? I am still not sure if it was autism, so take my words with a grain of salt.
The story turns when May and another Sin Eater are requested to hear the sins of governess of the Virgin Queen, there are some revelations that might bring chaos because those confessions might turn the politics into a complete and utter mess if they were ever revealed. I loved that this book was not opaque about who would generally be the Sin Eaters and why. The societal, class and gender norms and rules of the times really made this into a good read. May had her struggles, her life was bleak and she was scared and you could see that in every page. I genuinely enjoyed this book but I felt like I was only reading half of it at times, there was so much room left for worldbuilding, I wish there was more of the Royal Court that we could see. So, because of these reasons, I left it at 3.25 stars. I am very grateful for the advanced reading copy though! So thanks to Pan MacMillan and NetGalley.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh
In a world where women can’t have it all, don’t underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you.
Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you marriage and children. A blue ticket grants you a career and freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back. But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?
When Calla, a blue ticket woman, begins to question her fate, she must go on the run. But her survival will be dependent on the very qualities the lottery has taught her to question in herself and on the other women the system has pitted against her. Pregnant and desperate, Calla must contend with whether or not the lottery knows her better than she knows herself and what that might mean for her child.
An urgent inquiry into free will, social expectation, and the fraught space of motherhood, Blue Ticket is electrifying in its raw evocation and desire and riveting in its undeniable familiarity.
I will be the first to admit that I loved The Water Cure and it was, at the time, such a good deviation from my usual reads that it shone through. With that in mind, I was expecting something on that level and unfortunately, I let myself down on that front. Blue Ticket is not the same as The Water Cure and I kept expecting it to be so.
We read the entire book through Calla’s perspective and it’s a great perspective which helps us show exactly how the world works in this particular book. It’s horrifying and slightly something I could see happening in future in certain countries, if I am being honest. In any case, the fate of the women is decided by the Lottery once a girl starts menstruating. She’s then either classified into a Blue Ticket or a White Ticket. Blue Ticket means that she gets to be free of the responsibility of becoming a mother, she would go on and contribute to the society in other meaningful ways. White Ticket means that she would have no freedom of contributing to the society but by becoming a mother.
Calla is chosen for the Blue Ticket and she’s then sent to the city where she’s supposed to live in freedom. There’s a strict policies and people in place making sure that nobody is rebelling and doing the thing they are not supposed to do. Calla works in a lab wherein she’s also supposed to answer to a Dr. A. This is the bare bones of the setup and I wish there was more of it.
Coming to the worldbuilding, I have complaints. Everything is so vague and not detailed to the point where I am just giving up on finding anything solid and real. Calla, herself, is not quite a whole person, it seems at times. She’s also vague, she goes through the motions of trying to achieve her own wants and needs, I couldn’t get the depth I was hoping to get from her. She’s a difficult person to like or to even try to understand. Her wish to become a mother also didn’t seem real because she didn’t seem real. It mostly seems rebellious action than actually wanting a child and that made a whole lot of other problems arise.
Overall, I just wish it was more fleshed over and had a bit more detail than the ones we were given. I gave it 2.75 stars for lost potential.