by Robin LaFevers
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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...
There’s a fangirling Gremlins in me who’s lurking to spread his love.
Picture the mohawk one ← Always been my favorite. You’ve been warned.
☠ Possible side effects :
– Irrepressible squeals (Yes. Like fucking mice. You got it)
– Overuse of the words love/like/enjoy/swoon/…
– I’ll stop here otherwise I’ll scare you away
if that’s not already too late anyway
“There is a wild, frantic energy in this part of town that fits my mood perfectly. I raise my head and dare any of the dangers lurking in the shadows to try to match its skill against mine.”
▒ Why all this love, you’re asking? ▒
➊ A fast-paced plot. Forget the tedious wanderings of Grave Mercy and get ready : the story here starts on page one. Indeed I was hooked from the beginning, enthralled in Sybella’s life like I never was in Ismae’s. Her ultimate goal? To protect Anne de Bretagne from the multiple dangers that threaten her, first of all the Count of Albret, wicked and twisted as always. In the city of Nantes which has been previously taken by him, Sybella must use all her training skills, sometimes at her own expense. Nothing is more blissful than revenge, but she had yet to succeed without losing herself.
This book was dark, oh so dark at times. As it is, I must warn you here that the story deals with difficult issues, including sexual violence and incest, and several kind of abuse.
“But it is no holy light, simply me, whole and unafraid of who and what I am, eager to do the work I was born to do”.
➋ A real assassin as a heroine. As you can guess, I was able to care about Sybella because she’s everything but perfect, and much more than our average female lead. To be frank, I kind of want to throw adjectives and call it a day : flawed, multi-layered, sarcastic, loyal, smart, fierce, tortured, and straight-on awesome. Not to mention, deadly (I KNOW! An assassin who actually KILLS! Often!). But it wouldn’t do her justice, would it? Sigh.
“Someone is happy this morning,” he smirks.
“Someone is eager to feel the kiss of cold steel before he’s even broken his fast.”
Since her childhood, Sybella had to rely on herself to survive, and as it was, the choice she was given didn’t always let her the opportunity to be in harmony with herself. She’s no innocent, and she knows it. Does she regret some decisions? Yes, she does. Has she doubts? Oh, many. Does she whine or let her doubts eating at her? Never. On the contrary, she knows where lie her strengths and how to use them to fulfill her quest – yet she is seeking approval and the growth of her character was fascinating to follow, realistic and gradual as it was.
➌ An ugly and fascinating
love-interest partner in crime. What can I say about Beast, except that he’s everything you don’t expect from a male-lead? Well, just that. ← By Mortain, I want more men like him in my books.
“What in the names of the Nine Saints was that? Throwing your sword? Is that some special trick of Saint Camulos?”
He grins, and I am startled by how feral he looks, all gleaming white teeth and pale eyes in a blood-splattered face. Indeed, I do not believe he is quite human in that moment. “It slowed him down, didn’t it?”
God I love him. Did I say that?
➍ Peril and feeeeeels. Remember how Grave Mercy let me numb? Don’t worry, Dark Triumph is nothing like his eldest. Indeed whereas Ismae’s book dragged on the underwhelming side, nothing could have prepared me for the kaleidoscope of emotions I felt while following Sybella and Beast in their battles. Betrayal. Anger. Hope. Despair. Acceptance. Hate. Love.
➎ A gradual, very light romance, which never overtakes the plot. Anyway, you just can’t help but root for them, because to see the growth of their relationship makes you remember why it’s sometimes fucking great to insert a bit of romance in a book.
“I glance up at Beast’s face, which is contorted with – horror? Despair? I cannot guess what he is thinking or feeling. He looks down at his enormous, scarred hands. “How you must hate us all,” he said.”
Nowadays, it’s more and more difficult to find a romance which can warm our heart without making us rage because sexism, control, stalkers. Beast and Sybella’s story is one of them, and because it’s believable, smile-inducing and adorable, it reminds me if needed why I’m a sucker for a good romance in the first place.
➸ Now, love is not blind people. Although I’m willing to give it 5 stars still, I have to admit that this book isn’t flawless.
☠ Historical inaccuracies, here we go. The truth is, if I’m completely aware that it’s a work of fiction, I fail to understand why authors keep choosing well-known individuals as characters if they don’t respect the historical facts. Now, the book was really good so I chose to blind myself but come on. Please don’t underestimate readers.
☠ Lack of details in the settings : I don’t know if I’m more aware of it because I know the cities and the landscapes where the story takes place here, but I was slighly disappointed by the (lack of) description of the background. Indeed I would have loved to see Morlaix, Nantes, and the Breton country, and it sadly wasn’t the case. Not enough, anyway.
► Can you believe it? I can’t blame this book for anything else. This was just fucking awesome, that’s all.