Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Release Date: 2nd April 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
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When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...
Dark Triumph, which I read…a while ago… is the second book in the His Fair Assassin series, following on from Grave Mercy. This time it’s Sybella who is our protagonist and I have to say that I absolutely loved her. This book manages to be even better than the first one, blending some very dark themes with romance and political intrigue to create a story that is consistently compelling. Seriously, if you’re at all a fan of historical novels definitely find time to read this series.
So in this book Sybella is sent to the court of d’Albret, the most prominent threat to the duchess, to gather information that could help the Breton court fight back. D’Albret also happens to be Sybella’s father and the head of probably the most fricked up household in YA fiction. Trapped in her childhood home, constantly threatened with sexual and physical abuse, Sybella comes across the Beast of Waroch imprisoned in her father’s dungeons. Sybella’s relationship with Beast is a focal point of the story; their slow burning romance far surpasses the romantic subplot in the first book and kind of reminded me of some of my favourite Kelley Armstrong ships *sobs*
This is a much darker book than the first – there are parts which are incredibly difficult to read but I really thought that LaFevers was exceptionally good at addressing the darker parts of her story. Sybella’s trauma is part of who she is but it never feels like a plot device or a way for us to sympathise with her. She is a fully formed character who is a survivor; Dark Triumph is in many ways a story about a victim facing her abusers and conquering the fear they have bred in her.
I also thought that the romance in this book was very well written. Beast and Sybella are so different but their differences compliment each other – Sybella is (understandably) closed off, unwilling to get close to people. The Beast is one of the few people she knows who is stubborn enough to push past her walls and get to know who she is. I just love relationships which are on an equal footing, brimming with passion and understanding both. I really, really enjoyed watching their relationship develop over the course of the book.
Definitely a solid, enjoyable read that I recommend to basically everyone. Ellis says Mortal Heart is even better so I’ll be reading that at some point this year for sure.