Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin on April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
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...
I absolutely adored Grave Mercy from start to finish, so I knew that I had to continue on with the series as soon as humanly possible. I’m so glad I did, because Dark Triumph was if possible even better and I just want to flail about like a mad woman with all my love for this series.
While Grave Mercy‘s main character was Ismae, in Dark Triumph the focus is on Sybella, one of her sisters from the convent. Sybella is impressive. She’s much darker than Ismae and she actually really enjoys killing people. She’s cold, calculating, and deeply suspicious. She has her heart set on revenge, and no one is going to stand in her way.
In terms of history, Dark Triumph continues the story of Brittany in peril from within and without. There are some politics, though they are less heavy in this book. The series is actually taking a turn and placing more suspicions on the convent and the abbess, who I don’t trust for a second. I couldn’t stop reading this book because I needed answers ASAP. (I didn’t get all of them, but that’s why there’s a third book.) But yeah. There are a lot of skeevy things that happen in this book that are cringe-worthy but absolutely realistic. I love how this book can seem so authentic but have its touches of fantasy nonetheless. LaFevers is seriously a gifted storyteller who did her research.
LaFevers is also 2 for 2 on amazing ships. This time around, it’s Beast. And oh. my. lord. I might like Sybella and Beast’s relationship a little more than I already loved Ismae and Duval. Sybella and Beast aren’t perfect characters, but they’re fierce as fuck. They enjoy fighting and killing, and they really come to life on the battlefield. (And there were epic fight scenes in this book, believe you me.) This leads to an undeniable connection and respect between them. And Beast proves time and time again that he is admirable. He will make the tough decisions for the sake of the Duchess. Urgh, honorable knights, how do you make me swoooon so much?
So much of their relationship also hinges on the character growth that Sybella goes through in this book. As opposed to Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph is less about politics and more about her personal growth. The girl has had a shit upbringing, for serious. She has actual trauma in her past that just made me cringe and wince and cry for her, because damn, no one deserves that. A lot of it she has run from in the past, but out of respect for Beast and to try to make up for wrongs in the past, she starts peeling back those layers of secrets and lies. Beast is so wonderfully understanding about it, and his understanding in turn makes her stronger. Dude, seriously, feelings everywhere.
I also felt like in Dark Triumph the world building got much stronger. I found it hard to call Grave Mercy in part fantasy, because the only real fantastical element was the existence of Mortain and his marques – and even that was skeptical for most of the book. Dark Triumph delves more into the existence of these old gods and their intentions. Sybella, like Ismae, gets to meet Mortain, and their conversation was truly enlightening. I love how this world fits together. The only weird part of this book was when Sybella suddenly – and to me quite randomly – sees ghosts. But given that she’s a daughter of Death, I guess I can accept that.