Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
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Sin Eater

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,548 ratings  ·  949 reviews
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, apprentic
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Atria Books (first published March 31st 2020)
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Jan I think you have answered your own question. ASD would not have been recognized in those days and perhaps she is viewed as a little different because …moreI think you have answered your own question. ASD would not have been recognized in those days and perhaps she is viewed as a little different because nobody knew what autism was. I'm sure she is on the spectrum but it doesn't define her.(less)
Cat Some, but it isn't the main focus.…moreSome, but it isn't the main focus.(less)

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,548 ratings  ·  949 reviews


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Meredith
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
WHAT A PREMISE!

Sin Eater is an original historical novel about women who are to bear society’s burdens by being relegated to “sin eaters.” Sin eaters are women who hear confessions of the dying and eat food that symbolically stands for their sins. By doing so, they lift the burden of the dying and are destined to serve as the companion to the ultimate sinner, Eve, in hell.


14-year-old May, an orphan, is punished for stealing a loaf of bread by being forced into a life of servitude by serving as a
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Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nope! It’s not fair to compare this book with the other novels and talking about the resemblances with Handmaid’s Tale, Wolf’s Creek or any other epic stories. Sin Eater is dark, unique, original, well-crafted, visionary, horrifying, twisty, surprising tale, a very well written, somehow quirky, absurd, complex fantasy!

For its uniqueness and eerie, creepy, dark, intense atmosphere and impeccable development, I’m giving my four solid stars!

This is story of a fourteen years old girl May sentence
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Paromjit
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Megan Campisi writes a fascinatingly original and imaginative piece of alternative historical fiction set in a barely disguised sixteenth century England under the reign and royal court of Queen Elizabeth I. In this darkly moody, intense, creepy, and atmospheric novel, the actual existence of real sin eaters of the period is taken to another level. Only women can be sin eaters, a religious allusion to the biblical figure of Eve, her eating of the forbidden apple, the original sin. Sin eaters eat ...more
jessica
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
this story is fascinating - the unique concept, the vague airs of mystery, the intriguing characters, and the simple yet captivating writing all produce a very engaging reading experience.

for me, the highlight of this story is the subject. i was vaguely aware of the idea of sin eaters prior, but i love how this story shows them in such a complex light. i also enjoy how this story takes a turn towards mystery. the moral dilemma of a sin eater eating a food representative of a sin that was not con
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Beata
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Like many other readers, I was surprised to have learnt that Sin Eaters really existed that that they continued well into the beginning of the 20th century.
The story of a teenage orphaned girl who for a petty crime is forced to become a sin eater moved me deeply. Solitude and social isolation resulting from perfoming traditional ritual make her a protagonist I fully related to. The silence which is imposed upon her and the fact that she is accepted only by those rejected by the society make her
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Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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SIN EATER is another one of those books that suffers from poor comparisons. Alice in Wonderland meets the Handmaid's Tale?! The Name of the Rose meets Wolf Hall?! I am seriously side-eying all of the authors of those blurbs right now because comparisons like that 1) fail to adequately describe what the book is about, 2) do it an injustice by shaping the book as something it is not, and 3) are just such bad comparisons that I literally ca
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Will Byrnes
Salt for pride. Mustard seed for lies. Barley for curses. There are grapes too, laid red and bursting across the pinewood coffin—one grape split with a ruby seed poking through the skin like a sliver through flesh. There’s crow’s meat stirred with plums and a homemade loaf, small and shaped like a bobbin…There are other foods too, but not many. My mother had few sins.
In an alternate Elizabethan England, fourteen-year-old May Owens, newly orphaned with the passing of her father, (her mother’s
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Paige
"Sins of our flesh become sins of hers through the Eating, praise be."
After committing a crime, 14-year-old May is condemned to be a sin eater. She begins to follow the elder sin eater to learn her new job. While learning, a deer heart is placed at someone's Eating although the dead didn't confess to the sin that matches that food. May decides to discover the truth of the murder mystery, but she finds secrets, witchcraft, and lies along the way and her world is quickly and quietly turned ups
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Ceecee
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

The sin eater walks among us. I studied history and taught it, so how did I not know about sin eaters?? It’s the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Bethany in the book) and May Owens is caught stealing bread. Her punishment is to be branded a sin eater and a collar placed around her neck. May is now marked and shunned by society. She will be summoned by a family who has a dying relative. She has to eat a ritual meal after hearing a death bed confession, allocating foods to si
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Debra
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 Stars

"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."


A strong round of applause for Megan Campisi for creating a unique and original book set in sixteenth century England.

Recently orphaned, fourteen-year-old May has been jailed and convicted for stealing bread. Her sentence - to be a Sin Eater. A "what?" you ask.... A sin eater, shunned, an S tattooed on her tongue, unseen until
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*TUDOR^QUEEN*
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars

This book came on my radar via a NetGalley email inviting me to read the book. Otherwise, I think I would have overlooked this. I just found the email. It spoke of a "topsy turvy version of Elizabethan England with characters reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, Mary Seymour and others." Now that I am re-reading this email, it helps answer some of my mild confusion while reading this book. I am a British monarchy buff, so initially I was wondering who Queen B
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Amy Imogene Reads
Happy Publication Day!!

This alternative historical fiction novel centered on a "sin eater" in a version of Elizabethan England was dark, lyrical, and unforgettable.

Concept: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Sense of place: ★★★★

May Owens is caught stealing a piece of bread in the streets of an alternative version of London. It's the time of the Virgin Queen. Taken to be sentenced, May is shocked to receive a one-of-a-kind punishment: she's been declared a sin eater.

A sin eater is always a woman. She's branded b
...more
Liz
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paper-arc
This is a truly unique historical fiction. May is caught stealing a loaf of bread and is sentenced to become a Sin Eater. “It’s always women who eat sins, since it was Eve who first ate a sin: the Forbidden Fruit.” Now a pariah, no one dares look at her or speak to her. She’s not allowed to speak outside of the Recitation. Hers is a life of loneliness. It’s a very sad, dark story.
Campisi takes the Elizabethan period and renders it anew. The language takes some getting used to. The names have be
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Jasmine from How Useful It Is
This book is a fantastic read! What an interesting idea for a story. Sin Eater is awesome! I love following May's thoughts. She has a cool matter-of-fact attitude. When she got caught stealing she thought to eat the bread she stole because why not go to jail full than hungry. I like her thoughts about her mom and the way the author worded the sentence about the worms. It flows well but clever in a way. I like the modified kids rhymes to fit the story. Would have been great if readers were told o ...more
ELLIAS (elliasreads)
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-books, i-own
In a nutshell: This book is about a girl who eats food representing the sins committed in a person’s life before they die so they meet their maker with good grades and clear skin.

In the grand scheme of all things:OK SO WHAT FOOD REPRESENTS THE SIN OF THIS BOOK BEING: slightly (very) boring. No great payoff. Figured out twist very early on in the book. It was lie; I’ve been deceived. Oh calamityI WOULD LIKE TO KNOW TYVM!!!

2.5 STARS
Navessa
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing


Every now and then I come across a book that is totally different from anything else I’ve ever read. This phenomenon is becoming rare, and that’s largely due to the fact that I’ve read a lot of books in my 35 years.

Megan Campisi’s Sin Eater is the first book to make that list in several years, and because of that, I know that this story will stay with me for a long time.

A lot of the media buzz surrounding this book’s release drew comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, and I have to disagree. Yes, t
...more
Fran
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reinvented/alternate Sixteenth Century English Court had sentenced fourteen year old May Owens to life as an outcast. For the crime of stealing bread, May was given a life sentence: A Sin Eater...a social pariah...brutally marked with an "S" etched on her tongue...a shunned woman forced to wear a heavy brass collar with a hanging "S" pendant...cannot be touched or spoken to...cannot speak except during recitations or eatings.

What is a Sin Eater? "[Her]...fate is to hear the final confessions o
...more
Jenna
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
This started out engagingly enough but for some reason I lost interest about 50 pages in. I continued reading, hoping I'd get re-invested, but it never happened. 

3 stars for the quality of writing though my enjoyment was only 2. I wonder if perhaps I've grown away from novels set in medieval times or if I just wasn't in the right mood to enjoy this novel.
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Krystal
Not gonna lie, this was a disappointment for me.

I think my problem was my preconceived notions. 'Sin-eating' to me sounded a heck of a lot like fantasy, so that's what I expected. Turns out this was once an actual thing that once happened?! So that's entirely on me but it really coloured my experience of this novel.

For those who have not yet encountered the concept of sin eating, it's basically a medieval spiritual practice, where someone eats symbolic food to absolve a person of their sins befo
...more
Carolyn
The Unseen is now seen. The Unheard is now heard. The sins of your flesh become the sins of mine to be borne to my grave in silence. Speak.

So speaks the Sin Eater when she attends the bedside of a dying person to hear them confess their sins. By eating specific foods attributed to different sins (eg. raisins for adultery, dried plum for incest, mustard seeds for lying) the Sin Eater absorbs the sins herself and absolves the dying.

When fourteen year old May Owens is caught stealing bread she is
...more
Olivia-Savannah
I really didn’t know anything about the concept of sin eaters before, so this was a learning process for me as I was reading. I definitely felt for both of the sin eaters we met in this book. I wished I could have been in the book to show them some of the love and kindness that they needed and deserved.

The writing style for this book was perfect and suited the atmosphere of the book so much. I thought it was so good for getting the feel of the setting across. I’m not entirely sure how to explain
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Elle
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways, 2020
This is one of those books where the more I read about it the more confused I got. The Handmaid's Tale meets Alice in Wonderland? Eating ritual foods? What about a deer’s heart? So if she’s unseen and unheard, who prepares the sins food? And if she stole a loaf of bread, would Jean Valjean be a Sin Eater too? I decided to just dive in.

With the exception of the Jean Valjean one, all of my previous questions were answered. It’s absolutely insane that this is historical fiction. Megan Campisi conv
...more
Kalyn Nicholson
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian, feminism
When I began this story, I had no idea what I was about to encounter, so the entire book was a mystery as it unfolded. I loved that the heroine was an average, everyday underdog and how the storyline brushed up against themes like poverty, public shame, religious righteousness, self-acceptance, and making peace with what feels like a curse to turn it into a superpower. The storyline includes multiple complex female characters entrenched in a historical time when women were meant to be powerless, ...more
Ari
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon | Waterstones

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Fascinated by sin eaters since I came across them in literature years back, this book was not a disappointment. Do not expect a “fantasy” book that boasts of stark and obvious magic, wild creatures and epic worlds. Rather, go into it expecting to get lost in the life of a young girl, forced to become a woman, living a solitary and dark path that shuns her from eve
...more
Susan's Reviews
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As I read this dark tale, it brought to mind a "Twilight Zone-type" TV episode I had watched in my youth about sin eaters: i.e, people who "ate" the sins of the deceased so that the dearly departed could pass on to heaven.
The idea that you can buy yourself out of Hell or the Final Reckoning after death is certainly not a new one. These practices continue to exist today. Just about every
...more
Mel (Epic Reading)
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
3.5 stars. Some great lines and moments; but the mystery plot was convoluted and I felt like I had no chance to guess the answer. Additionally I cannot figure out how this relates, at all, to Alice in Wonderland (as per the blurb)? There is no 'other world', no 'falling', or any bizarre creatures. There is a queen, and a clear hierarchical society; but nothing that would have ever made me think of Alice in Wonderland. All that said it wasn't a bad book; but Sin Eater didn't feel quite complete t ...more
Annette
Mar 06, 2020 rated it liked it
“Sin eaters existed in parts of Britain until roughly a century ago. (…) They ate a piece of bread beside people’s coffins to absolve their sins in a folk ritual with Christian resonances.”

16th century England. Fourteen year old May Owens is arrested for stealing bread. Her penalty is to be a sin eater. With all eyes averting her, she walks to a house of an older Sin Eater. After her first Recitation, it sinks in that she is to hear just folk’s sins, not their joys or blessings.

The first 15% whi
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Juli
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story is part alternate history and part dark fairy tale. Sin Eaters. Women forced to listen to the confessions of dying people, then take on their sins by eating foods that symbolize the sins confessed. May is an orphan....alone and hungry. When she steals a loaf of bread, she is branded and shackled in a heavy collar. Forced to be a sin eater, she is a social pariah, living under the threat of hell if she fails in her duty. When her mentor is charged with treason and killed after refusing ...more
ABookwormWithWine
Well if there is one thing I can say with complete certainty it's that Sin Eater by Megan Campisi is one of the most unique books I have ever read. I didn't even know such a thing as a sin eater existed, and man what an existence they had.

I would definitely call Sin Eater a slow burn and it was gross at times as well thanks to the foods to be eaten for sins. I couldn't eat anything while reading it and could only drink about two different things without feeling slightly nauseated. I'm clearly ei
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Tami
Before reading this book, I had heard of sin eaters, but really knew very little about them. This was an eye-opener to say the least! A macabre story set during 16th century England, the tale gives readers a fairly detailed account of the the sin eating duties that were prevalent during that time.

May Owens, a lonely and hungry orphan, gets caught stealing bread and is given a harsh and unexpected sentence. She is to spend the rest of her life as a sin eater. Only fourteen, May knows little about
...more
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Megan Campisi is a playwright, novelist and teacher. Her plays have performed in China, France and the United States. She has been a forest ranger, sous chef in Paris and a physical theater specialist around the world. Originally from California, she attended Yale University and the L'École International de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family. ...more

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Let's face it, this year's class of first-time authors is seeing its debut novels launch into a world much different from what anyone in the...
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“Don’t I know by now that folk see their sins in the way they choose? There’s always a reason as to why selfishness is not really selfish and crimes are honest and waiting safely by while somefolk else is killed is really the more courageous choice.” 8 likes
“This is why we have cursing. I never understood what made folk do it, but now I know. All our dire feelings stain the heart, and the stains bloom into curses.” 2 likes
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