dtDark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by RL LaFevers
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

Oh man, Sybella. Poor Sybella. I just…there is so much to say! I’ll start by saying I absolutely loved Grave Mercy, but Ismae is a much different narrator than Sybella (which is a testament to LaFevers’ skill, really), and is much more innocent and sweet and pious. Sybella has been abused for her whole life, brought up in horrors, from her father to her brothers (ew, ew, ew, ew), to just about everyone else in her father’s service. She’s broken in a lot of ways, and has been mad twice, and is just generally in a bad state. When we saw Sybella briefly in Grave Mercy, Ismae was concerned for her, and she had every right to be. Sybella’s mission is a dangerous one, and I like how we see how scheming the abbess is. Sybella sees the convent and the abbess in a different way than Ismae, and I think Sybella is on the right track. The questioning of faith and leadership in this one is great. Dark Triumph is less about politics, more about personal growth. There are definitely scenes with the duchess and political intrigue, but this novel is about Sybella learning to forgive herself and open up to love. It’s really quite nice.

I don’t think I liked this one more than its predecessor, but I liked it very much. I felt the beginning was kind of slow; things didn’t pick up for me until about a third of the way through. It took me a week to get through that first third, and then I read the rest in a single night. The love story is such a slow burn, I really liked it. Sybella is more experienced in the ways of love than Ismae, so it was nice and interesting to see something unfold from that perspective. Plus I love an alternative love interest like the ugly Beast of Waroch. Reminds me of Terrible in the Downside Ghosts series. Plus y’all know I love a good coming of age tale, even if this one was a little more brutal than most. However…Sybella’s life has been awful. Near the end of the book, a lot of things come out, sordid secrets, and they’re all horrifying. It is hard to read sometimes, especially when the horrors involve young children. So while I wasn’t as completely wild about Sybella’s story, it still pulled me in, made me laugh, broke my heart, and left me wanting more. Which will be Annith’s story, Mortal Heart! We have to wait another year for it, but I trust that LaFevers will make the wait completely worth it.