See more of my reviews sooner on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC provided by the publisher.As much as I liked Grave Mercy when I read it last year, it was hardly perfect. Pacing issues and a heroine I don't much care for in hindsight are my two most noteworthy problems with it, but neither of those are anywhere to be found Dark Triumph. LaFevers kick it out a couple dozen notches and shows everyone how writing a sequel is done. It's so good that I'm scared the next book in the series will disappoint me!Ismae's story in Grave Mercy began with her wedding and escape to the convent, which made the pacing drag a little as we saw her grow up, but Sybella's story cuts right to the chase and reveals a part of her background we never learned in the previous book: she's the daughter of D'Albret, the man trying to force Duchess Anne to marry him. Over the course of the novel, bits and pieces of what living in his household was like for her. Close to the end, we come to learn exactly what had Sybella so wild and distraught when she first arrived at the convent and met Ismae. It's... pretty bad. I don't blame her a bit.Sybella is also a more engaging narrator. Whereas Ismae is very devout and subdued, Sybella is angry, jaded, and often wonders if St. Mortain exists at all. Her voice is more natural, there's hardly any noticeable flubs in the prose (no blood singing in triumph or whatever, thank goodness), and it's difficult not to cheer her on when she has to deal with a very twisted family. There's her monstrous, occasionally-flat-but-still-terrifying father, one brother who is in love with her and rather messed up, another brother who is even MORE messed up, and two younger sisters she'd do anything to protect.While reading Grave Mercy, imagining the Beast of Waroch being with anyone was a little difficult, but he fits in well as Sybella's love interest--and especially dear to me because he isn't a handsome man at all. The way he understands her and accepts all of her secrets so readily won me over in a hurry. I didn't appreciate him knocking her out because she wouldn't go along with one of his plans later in the book, but other than that one really stupid moment, their relationship is really quite sweet.Mortal Heart won't be out until 2014, but I'll be okay with the wait as long as I can keep Sybella in the meantime.