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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Title: Dark Triumph
Author: Robin LaFevers
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
ISBN: 9780547628387
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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 the arts of both death and seduction, Sybella, the convent realizes, is one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin's skills are little help 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?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Sybella would rather face death than be reconciled with all the things she has tried to run away from, from her treacherous and brutal father to the brother whose love proves sickening. After helping a prisoner escape from a fate that is most tragic, Sybella finds herself in a situation that not even the convent has anticipated. But even the coldest hearts must thaw at times, even when the timing is inopportune. 

Dark Triumph is hard to summarize without giving much of the story away, but I do think that it's significantly darker - thus better - than its predecessor, Grave Mercy. Truthfully, Sybella did not really pique my interest in the first book, and I only continued the series because it was quite enjoyable. But Dark Triumph is right up my alley as it does seem to cater to the more mature audience of the YA spectrum.

I really liked Sybella's character. Although cold, damaged, and more broken than she lets on, she is bloodthirsty and deviously cunning. She's also resourceful, and regretfully for her, is not as closed off as she would seem. She does have a heart, but it takes a very special and patient man to chip off all the ice and thorns surrounding it. But what I do appreciate about Dark Triumph is that LaFevers is not so much as creating characters, but as much as drawing out their actual personalities and insecurities. And I do so like LaFevers' hero in this one. Beast, based on his name alone, is hardly a guy anyone would put into their top book boyfriends. He doesn't have gorgeous hair, or a smile that would make anyone swoon. In fact, Sybella cruelly delights in calling him out on his "ugly mug", but Beast actually knows what's up with that, so he and the fair Sybella actually do make a good couple. The fact that he is delighted with her bloodlust only makes me love him more too.

With Dark Triumph sounding great, why then am I shaving off half a rainbow off my rating? While the premise is kept intact, the cast of characters are darkly amusing, and the pacing well-maintained, I do believe that there was something quite lacking that I just couldn't pinpoint. Probably I wanted something deeper for the plot, and I did kind of want Sybella to push Beast away a bit more, not because I am a terrible person or because I take delight in watching lovers in all their passionate anguish, but if only to make me actually internalize how great and fantastic they are together. The potential for eternal fan worship is there after all! 

Dark Triumph has actually made me excited for the next book, Mortal Heart, which is expected to come out in 2014.

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