Monday, April 8, 2013

Evil Never Truly Wins

Published: April 2nd, 2013
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin # 2)
By: R.L. LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
ISBN-13:  9780547628387

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?

     Sybella has dealt with many horrors in her short life, but being forced back into the household of the depraved Lord D'Albret is almost more than she can bear.  She joined with the other daughters of Mortain to escape from things she can't allow herself to think about.  The Mother Superior has promised her that she will be able to kill him as soon as he's marked by Death - so Sybella returns to the house of the man she always thought was her Father.  When a battle occurs and D'Albret takes a very unexpected prisoner, his life may be in Sybella's hands.  Can she help him escape and aid the Duchess of Brittany, while escaping from the evil machinations of the man who has destroyed Sybella's happiness for most of her life?  I went into this one having truly liked Grave Mercy, and being beyond excited to read about Sybella who intrigued me through minor mentions in the first novel.  I though Ismae had a rough life prior to the convent and being trained as an assassin for Mortain.  That was before I met Sybella and had my heart smashed to pieces by her traumatic life experiences!  Her Father was a complete monster and her 'relationship' with her brother Julian was such a horrifying disaster.  After managing to heal herself even a little bit, I was super pissed that the nuns had decided it was okay to make her a spy in D'Albret's household.  I loved the character development on her part and the slow reveal of her backstory, as devastating as it was.  But I have to say that as a reader, I was entirely unconvinced of any romantic feelings between her and the Duchess' soldier, the Beast of Waroch.  Their interactions had absolutely NO spark for me and seeing how he spends most of the book unconscious or recovering from some wound or another, how strong of feelings could they have really had?  Also, I felt like the plot and pacing of action in general really dragged for the first half of the book.  It seemed like nothing really happened until Sybella rescued the Beast from her Father's dungeon, and even then it was slow going.  I've seen other people complain that Grave Mercy had a slow start, but I never felt that way reading it.  With this one, I did.  The dark sense of humor, constant wavering of faith and unshakeable belief in justice really made me love Sybella.  This was a good second book in a series and managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, and the battle at the end of the book definitely had my heart pounding and my blood churning.  Overall a good book, especially for fans of high fantasy or medieval fiction along the lines of Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Maria V. Snyder.  But I felt like something was missing for me personally while reading it.
VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on April 2nd, 2013.*

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