by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
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? This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to the fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.
Typically I write my review within twenty-fours of finishing a book but I actually waited three days to write my review for Dark Triumph. I wanted to see if the mad gushy feelings I had for the book and series would subside. They did not, it’s official this series is my current number one favorite historical fiction series in the young adult genre. Grave Mercy the first book in the His Fair Assassin series was my top read for 2012 and its predecessor Dark Triumph blew it out of the water. Robin LaFevers is pure genius at creating fleshed-out, kick-ass and believable characters all while spinning a historical fiction that holds you captive.
Since meeting Sybella I was anxious for her story and I loved the way the author began the tale. We are taken back to the final battle scene that Ismae faced. Sybella is once again in her father’s home and has snuck onto the roof to attempt to warn Ismae. As the battle begins she is impressed by one warrior who she assumes battles to his death. On a mission to serve Mortain she has returned to the home of her nightmares. It is here we discover all that makes Sybella tick and learn of the sinister residences who reside within. When she receives a message from the mothers advising her to save the prisoner, she quickly learns the warrior lives and he is known as the Beast. The tale that unfolds is action-packed as Sybella comes into her own, questions her calling and seeks revenge…Ooh and just maybe finds love.
LaFevers breathes life into her characters, giving them depth and believability.* I actually think she lives with them* Sybella is damaged, but feels Mortain and the nuns gave her life. Until now she has never questioned them but when a mark fails to appear on the evilest of men, she begins to question her faith and its teachings. I really like her as a character even more than I adored Ismae. She is kick-ass and a warrior at heart, she enjoys the kill but her vulnerable side and inner strength stole my heart. I have often felt that a true hero doesn’t often come in a smexy package and such was the case with the Duchess’s warrior known as Beast. A hero can be scarred, with a crooked nose and rough, battered hands and sometimes he can be downright ugly with the purest of souls. I fell for this big, ugly oaf in a bad way from his kick-ass fighting skills to his soulful eyes. The relationship that develops between Beast and Sybella was slow to build, sweet and felt raw and beautiful. The Reverend Mother unnerves me as does her treatment of Sybella. I am quite anxious to learn more about the nun’s intentions Ismae is back and we hear news regarding Annith whose tale will be share next. The villains are ones you will love to hate, and the twisted story of Sybella’s brother and step-mothers was extremely well done and disturbing.
Grave Mercy was flawless to me that is until I read Dark Triumph. The author has given us more depth, a tighter tale and it flowed like honey as I slipped from reality completely.*Happy Dance* I love world-building and while LaFevers admittedly took some liberties with her historic timeline, she created a very suspenseful, action-packed version of it. It has long been speculated that the Grimm brother’s fairy-tale Bluebeard was based on a real person and the fable’s influence has been weaved into the tale and I gobbled up every dark moment of it. Such suspense! Between d’Albret’s attempt to marry the Duchess and the evasions of countrysides I was completely enthralled by the battles, conspiracies, and characters. There are dark topics to discover within the pages as LaFevers holds nothing back in revealing the horrors of Sybella’s childhood, the gritty bloodthirsty side of the battle, and one’s personal struggle with faith. She handles them beautifully, with knowledge and insight. I did not want this tale to end, as the author kept me held me captive. We do get some closure with an expectation that Mortal Heart will share Annith’s story. I adored Beast and Sybella they have won a special place in my heart.
Fans of Grave Mercy are in for a special treat as Dark Triumph exceeds expectant and delivers a novel that is tighter, superbly paced and has characters you won’t soon forget. Mortal Heart has an expected release date of 2014. *faints* Robin is now on my auto-buy list 🙂
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