SERIES: His Fair Assassin #2
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Historical Fantasy
TRIGGER WARNINGS: mentions of past incest/ sexual abuse
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 is the second book in Robin Lafevers His Fair Assassin series. It picks up straight after the events of Grave Mercy, but the action focuses on Sybella this time, one of Ismae’s friends and a fellow initiates of the order of St. Mortain. Ismae and Duval do show up very, very briefly, but it’s definitely Sybella’s story.
Personally, I thought this book was stronger than Grave Mercy, it definitely didn’t suffer from second book syndrome.
I thought the plotline was stronger, smoother and more confident. I liked the darker tone that seeing more of Sybella’s father and family life brought to the story. I think because Sybella’s goals and conflict were very personal, it made the stakes feel more pressing — more intriguing — perhaps than Ismae’s mission. I did like that we got a little cameo of the previous book’s characters and hopefully we’ll get to see them all interact more in the future.
I really loved the romance in this one, it’s a different type of relationship than the one that Ismae and Duval have in Grave Mercy, but I enjoyed it just as much. I thought Beast was a really interesting character in the first novel and it was great to see him get more depth and more page time in this one.
As evil and manipulative as Sybella’s father is, I’m actually interested to see where the overarching plot of the Duchess’s political entanglements goes. I think this book ended very strongly, but it definitely left space for more politicking to develop. To be honest, I was intrigued by the Abbess of St. Mortain as I am by d’Albrets. She is clearly hiding something and seems to be out to make both Sybella and Ismae’s lives harder than they need to be. I sort of get the feeling that either she’s the true villain of the series — which would be awesome! — or she’s kind of the everyday villain? Sort of the Umbridge to d’Albrets Voldermort?
I’m really interested to find out how what happens in the next book, Mortal Heart, which I believe will spend more time back at the Abbey.