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...
Published February 1st 2014 by Recorded Books
Five Stars: A stunning sequel that will break your heart and then mend it.
Sybella sends a silent screaming thought over the battlefield to Ismae and the Duchess to flee. She knows full well the danger that d’Albret presents. Thankfully, Ismae seems to hear her desperate plea, and she leads the Duchess to safety. Sybella breaths a sigh of relief before turning her attention to the valiant knights left to face d’Albret's army. One hulking soldier captures her eye. He fights courageously and without thought to his own safety. It takes several men to take him down, and for one brief moment their eyes meet before he falters. He is the mighty Beast of Waroch. Sybella's heart cringes to see such a noble man fall. Quickly, she must paste an indifferent, bored expression on her face lest she be discovered. Sybella is in a perilous situation. She is living in the nest of vipers. Sybella was sent to d’Albret's household by the Nuns of St. Mortain expecting her to ferret out valuable information to save the Duchess. Sybella agreed to this station hoping that her hand will with the guidance of Mortain will be the one to slay d’Albret. Can Sybella overcome darkness?
What I loved:
- I admit, I put off this series for far too long as I felt the first book Grave Mercy was overly hyped. Seriously, Grave Mercy was a blogger slut. I can't tell you how many reviews I read for that book. Needless to say when I finally got around to reading this series, I could see what all the fuss was about. Dark Triumph is even stronger than its predecessor. It is a stunning, intelligent and masterful work that everyone should read. If you have yet to read this series, I urge you to do so. It is top notch.
- I liked how complex Sybella's character was, especially in contrast to the more meek and pious Ismae from Grave Mercy. We first meet Sybella in Grave Mercy. She is rebellious and suicidal. With time, she takes to the convent and revels in learning how to kill. Her friendship with Ismae helps bring her back from a dark place. Dark Triumph is Sybella's story. Slowly, her layers are peeled away, and we get a glimpse under that hard, uncaring exterior. Sybella is a girl who has endured years of abuse at the hands of her own father. She wants desperately to be loved, but she is kicked in the teeth time and time again. Consequently, she trusts no one and believes that she is unlovable. My heart broke for her as I learned why she thought the way she did. Her story is heart wrenching and horrible, and it broke my heart and then mended it again. I loved seeing Ismae pull herself up and triumph over the darkness that had enslaved her for so long. It is a long journey filled with self doubt and dismay. I enjoyed watching her struggle with romance and with her beliefs regarding Mortain. I liked how she questioned her teachings and that she dared to act on her own without Morain's guidance. Sybella is fierce and courageous, a character you won't soon forget.
- The romance is fantastic. I liked how it is slow building and that it features two characters with tortured pasts coming together and learning to love. It is believable, beautiful and everything I hoped for. I loved it!
- I couldn't do this review without mentioning the might Beast of Waroc. Beast if first introduced in Grave Mercy, but you don't really get to know him until now. I loved this battered, bruised, fearless warrior. He might be scarred and marred and fearsome looking, but underneath he has tender, kind heart. He, like Sybella, has suffered plenty of heartbreak and rejection in his life, but through it all he remains noble and kind. No matter how much Sybella tried to push him away, he saw underneath to what was in her heart. I couldn't get enough of Beast. He is a surprisingly swoon worthy hero, and I loved that he was homely and scarred instead of the dashing, handsome hero we usually get. Beast has earned a coveted spot on my top list of book boyfriends.
- I loved how much I detested the villain, d’Albret. Yes, I got a good introduction to him in Grave Mercy, but truly I had no idea how cruel and depraved he is until now. With each new chilling revelation, I grew more and more disgusted with him until I shuddered at each mention. He is the stuff of nightmares and monsters. The type of villain that makes you recoil every time he is in the scene. LaFevers does a masterful job with this despicable character. He, too, will be a character that I won't soon forget.
- The overall story is intense and fascinating. I couldn't get enough of this one. There is so much action, danger, betrayals and romance that my head was spinning. This book is much faster paced than its predecessor, and I found myself racing through it.
- The ending is perfect and satisfying. It ties up most of the story threads leaving me content, while leaving a few dangling questions for the third book in the series. I can't wait for Mortal Heart.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by the talented Angela Goethals. I highly recommend the audiobook because not only does Angela do an exceptional job with the material, she provides fantastic French pronunciations. It is worth listening to this for the correct French pronunciations. It is an outstanding listen.
And The Not So Much:
- I question this being a YA title. While there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers, it is such a smart, complicated read that I feel like labeling it YA doesn't do it justice. This is a mature book that should be read by more adults. The depth and breadth of it is far superior to what you get in typical YA books. Please don't skip over this because it is labeled YA, I assure it is very much an adult read.
- The beginning is a bit slow, and it takes awhile for the story to settle in and get moving, but once it does, you won't look back.
- I felt such animosity toward the Abbess. She is cold, cunning and cruel. She harbors an intense dislike towards Sybella, and even goes so far as to put her into a situation where she knows bodily harm will befall her. But why? It was never revealed why the Abbess holds such disdain toward Sybella. Is it because of her heritage? Lack of piety? Or something else? I was must curious to know why the Abbess behaved the way she did. I am hopeful that more information will be forthcoming in the final book.
Dark Triumph is everything I hoped for and more. It is a strong, satisfying sequel that surpasses its predecessor. I loved the characters, the story and the complexity of this series. I strongly urge everyone to try this series, it is smart and sophisticated and far beyond the typical YA fare. If you want a skillfully written series with fantastic characters and complicated story lines, do not hesitate, read this series!
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.