Twylla, anointed of the gods and betrothed to a moody prince, lives in her own quarters in the castle with only her hunky guard, Lief, for company. There’s no risk of a romp, as her very skin is poisonous to those not of royal blood, a trait which comes in handy when the queen wants someone executed. But why is Lief oblivious to the danger? Why won’t he keep his distance?

Many fairy stories contain a monster, but it’s not often the heroine herself. Filled with guilt at having to kill traitors with a touch, Twylla has deep misgivings about the queen’s icy sovereignty. As her wedding nears, she plans a daring escape. The story ebbs into romantic tosh (“I won’t give you up, no matter who tells me to. No queen, no prince, no one”) but the creepy castle is a memorable creation, sumptuous yet menacing.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury, Scholastic, RRP£6.99, 330 pages

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