Sunday, April 14, 2013

REVIEW: Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub Date: April 2013, Houghton Mifflin
Format: eBook (Nook)
Source: Purchased from
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.


I know I am in the minority with this series, but I am just not as into these books as everyone else seems to be. I want to love them. I mean, who wouldn't want to love books about assassin nuns? The premise behind this series screamed to me and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book after I read Grave Mercy last Fall. But sadly, Dark Triumph fell flat for me. I wish I had written a review of Grave Mercy so that I could remember all of my thoughts after reading it, but I do know that I enjoyed that book more than its sequel.

I'll start by saying that Dark Triumph started off very slowly for me. So slowly, in fact, that I didn't find myself getting into the story until probably close to halfway into the book. Not only that, but I had no problem putting it down when I had to do something else or go to bed or whatnot. I'm not sure if the slow pace is due to the high level of detail LaFevers provides in her story-telling, or that events simply weren't happening fast enough to keep me interested, or perhaps it was a combination of the two. Like Grave Mercy, this book is written in the first person present tense, this time from Sybella's perspective. I generally don't care for first person present tense storytelling, though it has worked for me a few times, most noticeably with The Hunger Games trilogy. Well, I can't way it worked for me in Dark Triumph. I can't pinpoint what it was about it -- perhaps an awkwardness at times? Regardless, I found myself distracted by the fact that the book was written in the first person present tense, so that took away from my enjoyment of the story. Other than my issue with the point of view and tense, I do like LaFevers' writing style and her use of imagery and description.

I enjoyed the way LaFevers told us Sybella's backstory in bits and pieces throughout the entire book. It was an effective way to develop her character and I will say that I probably preferred her to Ismae. In the end, though, I felt like this book was doing more to tell us about Sybella, her life, and her personal experiences, as opposed to really furthering the plot surrounding the Duchess and those working treason against her. I don't mean to imply that is necessarily a bad thing, because Sybella's story is certainly powerful, but everything involving the Duchess felt like it almost didn't belong in the book. Hands down, my favorite part of the story (minor spoiler alert) was the developing romance between Sybella and Beast. Those were the pages where my attention was truly captivated and I very much wanted to keep reading the story. But make no mistake, this book is much darker and grittier than Grave Mercy, there is nothing exactly light-hearted about the unfolding romance or the rest of the story (assassin nuns, remember), but the growing relationship between Sybella and Beast is beautiful to read.

I suppose I can understand why so many people love these books, but they just are not quite working for me as a total package. The first two books feel a bit disjointed and even the stories within each book seem disconnected at times. We know so little about Annith, whose story will be featured in Mortal Heart, and what we do know doesn't spark much interest for me, so I have a difficult time seeing how her story will follow Ismae's and Sybella's and connect the three books. I'm not sure if I will be in a rush to read the final bok when it comes out next year, but I expect I will want to at least finish out the series at some point.

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Read this book...
~ If you liked Grave Mercy -- no reason not to continue the series, right?
~ If you enjoy paranormal historical fiction/fantasy
~ If you liked Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo or The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)

1 comment:

  1. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more Melissa. I do wish that there was more about Annith. I adored Sybella and Beast together and there unconventional relationship. If you do choose to read Mortal Heart I hope it goes better for you.


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