From the Back Cover:
Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.
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. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, 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. 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?
While the first book in this series was all about Ismae, Dark Triumph is Sybella's story, and after meeting her in Grave Mercy, I couldn't wait to read it. Continuing to carry out the Convent of Mortain's orders to infiltrate the young Duchess Anne's enemies and dispatch them as the Lord of Death sees fit, Sybella is back in Count d'Albret's court. Raised as the monstrous count's daughter, she is in the perfect position to spy on his plans as he plots to conquer Brittany and force the duchess into marriage. But her assignment comes with a high cost, as Sybella must bear the brunt of her father's suspicion and anger and her brother's incestuous advances. But she bides her time, internalizing her suffering, waiting for the moment a marque appears on d'Albret and she can end his reign of terror once and for all, and with all of the fury of the hatred she has been storing up for him over the years.
But as more time passes and no marque appears, Sybella grows anxious and worried, and rails at a god who would allow such a man to live. A mission finally arrives from the convent, but it is not the one she wants. The convent has asked her to free the Beast of Waroch, the famed knight and the duchess's deadliest and most devoted servant, whom d'Albret has captured and tortured. It's a seemingly impossible task, and if Sybella does manage to pull it off, she'll most likely end up sacrificing herself in the process, and the convent doesn't seem to mind. But she finds help in an unexpected place, and she finds herself on a mission of a different sort, to smuggle Beast through the countryside to the safe-hold of Rennes, and to nurse him back to health so he'll survive the journey.
Sybella and Beast rejoin the duchess and the fight for Brittany, and though Sybella fights her feelings for Beast, he slowly takes down the walls around her heart. He sees through her arrogant, tough exterior to the brave, generous soul beneath, and his selflessness and devotion inspire her. But as d'Albret's victories stack up and the trap tightens around them, they're forced to enact a risky and dangerous plan to defeat him, and Sybella realizes the only way she'll be able to save her friends and the man she loves is to face her father one last time, to either kill him or die trying.
Dark Triumph is a worthy follow up to Grave Mercy, which was one of my favorite YAs last year. The historical setting is rich and exciting, the tone is dark and dangerous, and the characters are awesome. Sybella is fierce and brave and terribly lonely; Beast is honorable and chivalrous and totally swoon-worthy, and they are good complements for each other. I complained that I thought Grave Mercy was a tad too long, but I had no such complaints with Dark Triumph. In this one I thought the dialogue wasn't quite up to par in some scenes, but it's a small complaint against everything the book has going for it. Whether you're a YA lover or a historical fiction lover, or both, like myself, this series is wicked good entertainment and a must read.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
**Please Note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. These are my honest and unbiased opinions, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.