Title: Dark Triumph
Editor: Robin LaFevers
Source: bought at Rochester Teen Book Festival
Review Summary: The perfect sequel to Grave Mercy, with the same strengths – strong protagonist, constant action, and fascinating setting.
For those of you who read Grave Mercy, you’ll recognize our new protagonist Sybella from her encounter with Ismae at the convent. In this book, Sybella is forced to face the dark events that chased her to the convent for refuge in the first place. We learn a lot about her past and the reasons she has such a drive for revenge. We also share her discovery that revenge might not be enough and, as with Isame, learn more about the mythos surrounding the nuns position as servants of the god of death.
When I start the sequel to a wonderful book, I always feel some trepidation that the sequel won’t live up to my sky-high expectations. Even more so when the book has a new protagonist! In this case, I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to tell you that those worries were completely unfounded. Dark Triumph was good for all the same reasons as Grave Mercy and, as is often the case with the best sequels, it allowed me notice new things I consistently like about the author’s work. The things I loved from before included the strong protagonist, gripping writing, constant action, and well researched historical setting. I also liked that the author included a note identifying liberties she took with the historical facts that inspired her.
Thinking further about commonalities that made me like both books, I also realized that the character growth in each book was one of my favorite parts. Both characters find romantic interests who help balance them, but before they can do that, they really have to come to terms with themselves. In my opinion, that’s both more realistic and a much better message than having heroines whose love interests solve all of their problems. Their struggle to come to terms with their directions from the god of death added an interesting philosophical aspect to the character growth. Specifically, the girls had to decide if they believe in free will or pre-determination. If you liked the first book, I’m positive you’ll enjoy Dark Triumph and I would highly recommend the whole series to anyone who likes fast-paced action, strong heroines, great character growth, and history-inspired settings.