5 of 5 stars *****
Francine Rivers is a marvelous story-teller and proves it with this masterful work, The Last Sin Eater. This story engages the reader early on with the introduction of family characters who are immigrants from Great Britain. They settle in a beautiful Smokey Mountain region in eastern United States. Through the eyes of Cadi Forbes, a little girl who experiences old customs when her beloved grandmother dies and the group gathers for her funeral, The Last Sin Eater becomes known.
Rivers develops the tension in this story around the Forbes family's loss. Cadi's little sister falls to her death off a fallen tree that bridges a deep gorge over a rapid river . The younger child follows Cadi to that fatal spot; so Cadi is guilt-ridden when her mother's remorse expresses harsh feelings toward the older girl. Unable to bear the burden of guilt for a lifetime, Cadi seeks out the "scapegoat" character, the Sin Eater, so he may absolve her of her sin. When that proves to be ineffective, she meets a missionary who tells her about the original Sin Eater, the only one who can truly forgive her sins, Jesus Christ. The story evolves into an adventure that thrills, saddens, and heartens the reader before expertly crafted pages demonstrate moments of courage and sacrifice that uplift spirits and change behaviors toward Truth and abandon ancient fears which allow superstition and lies to prevail.