Much to my surprise, Robin LaFevers has managed to build on the story started in Grave Mercy, and keep the flow, style, character development and story line without missing a beat. This installment is just as enjoyable, full of action, and characters to appreciate, enjoy and cheer on. What caught me about this series was the historical fiction aspect, and while LaFevers uses some actual historical facts, she isn’t constrained by retelling history from a new perspective: she has built a world informed by and utilizing some factual elements, but added enough fantasy and intrigue with her characters that the story reads as a fantasy, grounded in history, but not a slave to it.
In this story, we are given a chance to check back with Ismae, but it truly is Sybella’s turn to shine, and we see her return to where it all began for her, and watch her fight back against those she left behind. While Ismae’s approach to her assignments were more workmanlike; Sybella actually enjoys the violence and her ability to kill, a clear reaction to her lack of control and power as a child. Surprisingly, this only seems to make her character easier to understand and relate to – as she is never cruel or unnecessarily vengeful. Sybella’s mission is to save a warrior she found impressively skilled, but who was captured and she believed, killed after the battle.
The Beast (so named for his appearance, is a warrior for the Duchess, highly skilled, this mountain of a man with a scary and ugly countenance is blessed with a purity and goodness that shine clearly through his eyes. We’ve met him before, and while fearsome in battle, he is a gentle giant, seeking the good in his friends and always there to protect. He and Sybella are a wonderful pairing, and when Sybella is starting to question all she has believed to this point, and the unanswered questions about what is to come for her as she tries to reason through and think of the possibilities are wonderfully detailed and show her as a complete being.
Again, the action is never-ending and there are several darker moments here as plots, histories and battles are retold in LaFevers beautifully lyric writing. Adding in elements from the Brothers Grimm and their tale Bluebeard, potentially based in real events adds depth and color as the story proceeds apace, and the loose connection to actual historical events add, again, a grounding that gives a solidity to the story that would otherwise be missing. LaFevers again uses language and imagery to fully build and then lead the reader through the story, with the return of Ismae and hints that book three will bring closure to the girls’ stories with the tale of Annith. A wonderfully developed and detailed story full of characters that will become your new friends, this is a series that can be read by teens and adults alike, each finding their own favorite angle and moment.
Title: Dark Triumph
Author: Robin LaFevers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Teen Reads
Published by: Books for Young Readers, Houghton Miffllin/Harcourt
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 13 Hours: 36 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦Audible
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...
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.