The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury
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 her, 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 shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.
Confession time: I was about 5/8 through when I realized that this is actually a sequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter, which explained some questions I had. Otherwise, I was able to follow along and made some guesses as to the general outline of what happened previously. This novel is set in the same world, but its main character is not the same as in the first (although she does show up at some point). Do you need to read the first novel to fully enjoy this one? Probably. Especially since our protagonist, Errin, keeps wondering what happened to her brother, Lief, who apparently figures prominently in the first book.
The mythology of this world is sufficiently engaging. However, at about 2/3 of the way through, I had a bit of a debate on whether I would continue or no. Not sure why – perhaps because that was my first sitting with the book and I was determined to finish it before going to sleep maybe? I ended up falling asleep against my will and picked it up again the next day refreshed and ready to continue with my harrowing journey with Errin as she tries to take care of her ill mom, escape the creepy clutches of the town leader and make poisons for the mysterious Silas.
The last 1/3 moved pretty fast and there were many revelations, which probably makes it moot to read the 1st book but absolutely imperative to read the last one. Lots of heartbreak in this one but it ends in a note of hope.