Title: The Sleeping Prince
Author: Melinda Salisbury
⭐️ 5 / 5
Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep. When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help Errin, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds splits the world as she knows it apart, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom…
Warning: minor spoilers ahead in the form of fangirling over a character pairing
This is the second instalment in Melinda Salisbury’s The Sin Eater’s Daughter series. This is the first book in a long time that I ran through in one sitting. After immensely enjoying the first book in the series, I was initially disappointed as this novel seems to drop Twylla from the narrative completely and instead picks up with an unknown character. All I desperately needed to know was how Twylla was getting on after the events of her story and instead we move to a struggling village in a neighbouring part of the realm and follow Leif’s younger sister Errin. I was not happy. However I was far to quick to judge because she became one of my favourite fictional characters to read about in 2017. She is young, snappy and hungry (name that musical 😉) to survive the changes in the world she sees around her. After Leif’s departure from their newly broken family home, Errin is forced to give up her trade as an apothecary to care for her sick mother. She must resort to illegally making remedies, poisons and other lotions and potions to pay for her survival and to ensure the villagers don’t turn on her mother who is looking increasingly like she is possessed by something sinister. She has grown up in a society firmly rooted in fact and science, which is the polar opposite to what we have seen with Twylla. However with their world facing the reawakening of the Sleeping Prince, a being of legend, Errin’s people are not able to place as much surety in science as they are used to. Errin must watch her family life and the society she has always known and loved crumble before her and watch her neighbours take up some of the odd practices of the devout citizens in the part of the world we know through Twylla. The only constant in Errin’s new life of despair is her strange friendship with the mysterious Silas. Enter my favourite couple of the series.
For me, this book is stronger that The Sin Eater’s Daughter in terms of plot and characters. Once I was past the initial disappointment of switching protagonists, I found I was far more invested in what was happening to Errin than I was with what happened to Twylla. Errin is more relatable in the way that her life is a struggle to hold all of the pieces together and maintain a skill she wants to turn into a job as well as her family, personal life, and image to the strangers she is living amongst. In short she is juggling a job, a complicated personal life and has accidentally fallen in love with a handsome man who has never said more than a few words to her and is a virtual stranger. Most of us have felt like that during our complicated teenage years. Next is the element of romance. It takes a complete backseat here but that allows for a much more natural progression of feelings to develop between Silas and Errin and gives the reader time to learn nearly all of the relevant information about the pair. It also has the added benefit of making us scream for them to get together by the time they finally sort themselves out (it is for very valid reasons, I promise, and I’m all for the love that makes you scream at fictional people). Errin’s love story is a narrative that runs alongside the action whereas for Twylla, her love triangle is a solid 40% of her entire story, which isn’t a bad thing – I rather enjoyed it. However, comparatively, the balance felt better in The Sleeping Prince.
For the rest of the plot, Melinda DELIVERED in the action stakes! Her books are packed with action and unpredictable twists and turns that are exciting, horrifying, and quite frankly traumatic, for her characters and our own tortured imaginations. Luckily for us we were treated to a great deal of world building by following the journeys of the characters and learning more about the system of faith we’d encountered in the first novel. This instalment worked to give us all the kind of gritty knowledge we needed to get us to a level of superior knowledge to the protagonist and bring us to another cliffhanger at the end of the novel. This leaves us in a great position to read the final instalment and play every readers’ favourite game of piecing the action together throughout book 3. I loved the new characters introduced in The Sleeping Prince and know they are a solid addition to the series.
Melinda’s style of writing sits really well with me. I have loved both of her books that I have read so far and cannot wait to see what happens next.
Please let me know below what you though of this book when you read it!