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The Scarecrow Queen (Sin Eater's Daughter) Kindle Edition
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First, the dislikes: the climax is a bit rushed, especially the confrontation with the villain, one character’s redemption through death is a bit of a cliche, and Errin’s anxiety from the previous book doesn’t really play a role here (though poor Errin is really put through a lot).
But everything else about this book is fantastic.
As it starts, Errin has been captured by the evil Sleeping Prince, who toys with her while keeping her boyfriend hostage for his alchemical abilities. Making things worse, her own brother, Lief, is the Sleeping Prince’s right-hand man. Errin’s pov is given in short interludes and then in the middle third of the book. Though Errin’s confrontations with the villain are great stuff, her third of the book spends a bit too much time on the logistics of her getting away.
However, in this third of the book, Merek from book one, The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, reappears, and he continues to play a large role throughout the book. He was my favorite character from the first book, so I was very happy with this development. He’s a prince who wants what’s best for his people, even if that doesn’t mean him on the throne. He’s dutiful, kind, and open to new ideas, and quietly and faithfully in love with Twylla, our first and last narrator.
Twylla has grown from the easily-manipulated girl of the first book–now she’s a leader and a fighter, organizing a resistance group against the Sleeping Prince while waiting to reunite with Errin so they can together create the poison that will kill him. She’s also marked by her past, deeply afraid of anyone controlling her or taking her choices from her.
Lief, her first lover before he betrayed her, sometimes helps and sometimes hinders Twylla and her plans. Is he really loyal to the Sleeping Prince, and is he really as selfish as he seems? And why does he twice refuse a healing elixir when seriously hurt?
I’m not going to spoil the plot for anyone, but it’s very suspenseful and fast-paced. The Sleeping Prince continues to be a great, terrifying villain–the scene in the middle in which his tower is burned and he suspects Errin and Lief have betrayed him is a great set-piece.
Melinda Salisbury’s next book will be the multi-authored Floored, a contemporary YA, and she has hinted at more fantasy books. The US edition of The Scarecrow Queen won’t be out till next year, so I recommend ordering from The Book Depository, as I did.
So it really pains me to say that this book did not live up to what I had hoped it would be and I was really disappointed with how the trilogy ended. Don't get me wrong there were some really great bits in this book, but after reading the final page I felt a bit like 'What? That was it?'
"In every fairy tale there is a kernel of truth, and that is the truth of this one. For him, I am poison. I am his death. And I will deliver."
The first two books in this trilogy are told in first person POV; Sin-Eaters Daughter from Twylla's POV and Sleeping Prince from Errin's, which worked perfectly. But in Scarecrow Queen, which is told from both Errin/Twylla POV this doesn't really work.
One main problem for me is that the other main characters aren't really with Errin or Twylla much in this book so they basically become background characters. I really wanted more of Silas and Leif in this book then I got. Also I struggled with the alternating POVs because instead of alternate chapters it was more like a big chunk of Errin and then a big chunk of Twylla with so much time between each characters POVs. So much happens to Twylla in the time we are with Errin and vice versa and I just felt like we missed out on so much good stuff because of this.
"I'm tired of taking people's sins on myself.
I'm tired of running away from everything."
The beginning of this book is deliciously creepy. Aurek is a pretty dark person and does some horrible things to Errin, which don't get me wrong I was totally sorry she had to endure them, but at the same time I love me some bad guys who actually do bad things (rather than just making empty threats) and I love that Salisbury took it in that dark direction. However I was really looking forward to seeing Errin's struggle to return to normal life once she was free from Aurek and has to deal with the aftereffects of the physical and mental violence that was inflicted on her. But instead she just carried on as she was. I was hoping for a little damage, some struggles and ultimately Errin's recovery from her traumatic ordeal.
I also kinda struggled with Twylla in this book and at times she was just a bit too 'all about me'. She gave this impressed that she just expected that everyone should listen to and agree with her opinions and do what she said and didn't like it when they didn't agree with her. I really liked her in the first and second books but in this book she just felt totally different, like she was turning into some of the characters she herself hated in the first book and I just found it really hard to connect with her. Plus the whole Twylla/Merek dynamic that was built up in the previous two books just kind of disappeared in this book and I found it so hard to figure out who they were meant to be to each other.
"Scarecrow queen. Nothing but a dupe, alone in a field, hoping to keep the crows at bay."
As with any YA Fantasy/Dystopian trilogy the first two books build up the tension and then in the third book we finally get our characters fighting back and taking on the bad guy. Pretty standard right? In this book we get a whole load of build up, and then like 40 pages before the end of the book it all finally kicks off. I was literally checking how many pages I had left the entire time worrying because no way could everything that needed to happen actually happen in just 40 pages. For me it just felt a bit rushed and I felt like I was left with a lot of unanswered questions and didn't get to see how things ended for many of the characters.
"Sometimes he sounds so wistful and lonely that I forget for an instant that he’s a monster, lulled by his soft voice and his hands in my hair. Until he turns my face to his and I see him, and I recall exactly what he is, and the look in my eyes reminds him that he might control my body, but he can’t control my mind."
I have loved Salisbury's world from the start. The history, the traditions, the magic... just everything. Thankfully her amazing world building skills are still in this book and I just loved immersing myself in it all again. The writing was well paced and compelling and I loved the first 60% of this book for it's dark and creepy nature. It was just the last 40% which started to slip a bit for me and didn't quite keep to the level of awesome that other fantasy trilogies have with their endings. I just needed more from it.
"And that, my girl, is the secret. Quake all you must on the inside. But on the outside you must be stone. And you never know; with enough practice it might become the truth."
The story is told from twin point of view and they are that of Errin and Twylla. The book starts off some time after the last book ended as we see Errin as a prisoner of Aurek. The torture and abuse that Errin faces at the hands of Aurek in the very first chapter sets the readers off of Aurek and creates sympathy for Errin. Twylla takes up the task of getting the rebels to band together. While Errin and Twylla both develop over the book as they have over the series, I feel that the characters of Silas, Lief and Merek were not handled well enough. The male characters turned very much secondary in this installment and it disappointed me to see so much potential left untouched.
There is no doubt that Melinda Salisbury can narrate a story well. It was evident in the first two books and it was even more evident in this one. While the treatment of the male characters irked me, I still wanted to continue reading because I just had to know what would happen. There were certain loopholes which did not make sense, but then again I just couldn’t stop reading.
I have to say that The Scarecrow Queen does not do justice to the first two books in the series. But still it is an entertainer on its own.