Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

dark triumph

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Sybella has been forced to return to her family after fleeing to the convent for safety.  There she learned the art of assassination, but nothing prepared her for returning to the family that abused her for years.  Now she has to play the dutiful daughter while waiting to see if the marque of Death will appear on her father’s body.  She has been promised the right to personally murder him.  Around Sybella, politics are being played out.  Loyal to the Duchess, unlike the rest of her family, Sybella is able to send a message to warn them and turn the result of a battle.  When the convent orders her to rescue a valuable prisoner from under her father’s nose, Sybella risks losing her entire protective disguise.  She doesn’t realize that she risks losing her heart as well.

I adored the first in the Fair Assassin series and looked forward to this second book.  The heroine in this book is Sybella rather than Ismae.  While the first book was awhirl in the politics of 15th century Brittany, this one is much more about a person and her own personal history.  Sybella is a compelling and rich character.  As the abuse she suffered is slowly revealed, readers will discover more and more about the incredible strength of this girl turned killer. 

Sybella also questions her own loyalties and ties to Mortain, the God of Death.  She wonders whether the convent may be wrong about things or if perhaps she herself has overstepped and lost the God’s favor.  These questions of faith against the dark stain of familial abuse add to the depth of the novel.  As with the first book, there is a passionate romance that rings true and honest.  Sybella slowly falls in love, so gradually that she doesn’t notice until she is fully intoxicated with it.  It is beautiful and glorious, especially as she is accepted as she admits the entire truth about her life.

A killer book, this is a strong sophomore book in a riveting series.  Not for the faint of heart, this book has abuse, murder and true tragedies in its pages.  Appropriate for ages 16-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer

follow follow

Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

This is the second book of reverso poems by Singer, following her amazing Mirror Mirror.  In a form she invented, Singer tells the stories of fairy tales using a poem and then reversing the lines and changing the punctuation to tell the other side of the story.  The result are brain teasing poems that illuminate the darkness inherent in the tales themselves.  This group of poems includes stories that may not be familiar to readers, so the index of stories at the end of the book will be welcome.

As with her first book, some of the reversos work better than others.  Here my favorites are The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Tortoise and the Hare.  All of the poems have a wonderful cleverness and wit to them, making them all infinitely readable and a great deal of fun.  This is a celebration of poetry, fairy tales and word play all wrapped into one delight.

Masse’s illustrations are done on wood, giving them a wonderful texture that is reminiscent of tapestries and medieval images.  Her use of jewel tones evokes that period even more.  All of the images are also double-sided, showing both sides of the poem in one united image.

Perfect for fans of fairy tales, this clever and delicious book will have them seeking out the unfamiliar tales to read them in full.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.