Thursday, February 14, 2019

Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology, #1)
by Robin LaFevers
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Courting Darkness blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you!

Title: COURTING DARKNESS (Courting Darkness Duology #1)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 512

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

See where it all began! Grab the His Fair Assassin Trilogy now! You don’t need to read these to read Courting Darkness but they’re amazing! [Grave Mercy - Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD | Dark Triumph - Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD | Mortal Heart - Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD]

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I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I read Grave Mercy a few years ago, but forgot to finish the series! However, after reading Courting Darkness I really want to restart and complete the His Fair Assassin trilogy. LaFevers is insanely imaginative, and I love the world she has created. I'm thrilled that the Courting Darkness duology has the same setting! Some of the characters were familiar, like Ismae and Duval, but they were only present at the start of the book and didn't play a huge role in the rest of the story. I'm not sure if any of the other characters were from previous books, since I still need to finish the first series.

Even though I read Grave Mercy ages ago, I had no trouble understanding the unique terms and phrases used throughout the book. LaFevers expertly sprinkled the information here and there (dropped in a conversation or an observation), so it wasn't overwhelming or wordy. I was so immersed in the story, I hardly noticed!

Beast was easily my favorite character. I liked that he wasn't your typical macho man with muscles for days and hair like spun sugar. He's scarred, broken, and his appearance reflects his hardships and the many battles he's fought (not all of them on a battlefield). He's a fierce opponent, loyal and loving. I enjoyed his interactions with Sybella, and how unbelievably sweet he could be. He wasn't overprotective, but trusted in her abilities. He knew she could protect herself, and fought by her side. I loved the two of them together, and how easy their relationship was. They didn't play games, but appreciated what they had. It was honest and sincere.

There are a lot of horrible characters in this book, and I found myself wanting to strangle a few of them. Awful people make me want to do awful things, especially when they hurt children. LaFevers shows a darker side of humanity, and how Sybella and Genevieve have to fight their own impulses to smack some people around. They fought for what they believed in and what they loved, and didn't go looking for a fight. However, they weren't afraid of going up against anyone that challenged them or threatened what they protected.

I really loved the concept for this book, and I'm happy LaFevers decided to expand on the world from Grave Mercy. Sybella and Genevieve are amazing characters, and I appreciate what the author put them through. She didn't pull her punches, and I think really benefited them in the end. They were smart and skilled, but they struggled with some of their decisions and the choices presented to them. It felt authentic!

I highly recommend this book, even if you haven't read Grave Mercy and the others. Courting Darkness was a hard book to put down, and something I always looked forward to picking back up again.


About Robin:

Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at www.rllafevers.com.

Giveaway Details: 
20 winners will receive His Fair Assassin character card sets, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/21/2018- The Pages In-Between- Review
1/22/2018- Fiction Fare- Review
1/23/2018- YA Books Central- Excerpt
1/24/2018- Two Chicks on Books- Excerpt
1/25/2018- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Review

Week Two:

1/28/2019- Colorimetry- Review
1/29/2019- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
1/30/2019- A Gingerly Review- Review
1/31/2019- Moonlight Rendezvous- Review
2/1/2019- Novel Novice- Excerpt

Week Three:

2/4/2019- Lisa Loves Literature- Review
2/5/2019- Flyleaf Chronicles- Review
2/6/2019- Smada's Book Smack- Review
2/7/2019- A Backwards Story- Review
2/8/2019- Jena Brown Writes- Review

Week Four:

2/11/2019- Nerdophiles- Review
2/12/2019- Book-Keeping- Review
2/13/2019- Eli to the nth- Review
2/14/2019- Do You Dog-ear?- Review
2/15/2019- Book Briefs- Review

42 comments:

  1. I haven't read her other books, but this series did catch my eye. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much

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    1. Do you think it's one you'll read in the future? I want to go back and re-read Grave Mercy! It's been ages since I read the first book, and I've been meaning to finish that series. Courting Darkness is set in the same world, and I love both Sybella and Genevieve! They were really great characters -- both flawed and relatable.

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  2. I hadn't heard of this but the story line is intriguing.

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    1. Do you like books about assassins? I think this series (and the one before it) have a concept you'd find interesting, Mary! <3

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  3. I've had Grave Mercy sitting on my shelf forever ad always forget about it until someone like yourself mentions how much they've enjoyed the series. As you son't need to read Grave Mercy beforehand, does it spoil any of the original series? I love me some fierce assassins Linds, brilliant review and thanks for putting in on my radar!

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    1. I don't think it spoils anything from the original series, but I've only read Grave Mercy. I know Ismae and Duval were in this one (they were two of the main characters in Grave Mercy), but they played small roles in Courting Darkness. Nothing about this book spoiled the first, although it might reveal too much about how the first book ended. Hmm -- it's a good question. I would suggest reading the original series before starting this one -- just in case! It's such a great book, though! ;)

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  4. Yeah I'll need to be reading this. :) I loved Grave Mercy.

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    1. Have you read the rest of the His Fair Assassin trilogy? I feel like most people (like me) have only read Grave Mercy. I wonder why?

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    2. I know, I wonder that too! I've also only read Grave Mercy haha. I wonder if it's because the POV changes in book two? Like I loved the protagonist in Grave and if her story continued I probably would have snagged book two ASAP, but knowing there was a POV change- I still wanted to read it, but the urgency wasn't QUITE as high, and then it never happened. :(

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    3. I actually think the protagonist in book two was one of the main characters in Courting Darkness. I'm almost positive they're both about Sybella (maybe). Aargh -- I need to read them, haha. I think you'll enjoy them all! :)

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  5. I have never heard of this series before, but this cover is super gorgeous <3 I'll definitely be checking this out!

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

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    1. Awesome, Elle! Courting Darkness can easily stand on its own, but you might want to start with Grave Mercy since some of the characters are familiar! I wouldn't want this book to spoil the others for you. I don't think anything is intentionally spoilery, but it might give you an idea of how the first book ends, which is a bummer.

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  6. I love when you can see yourself in the world, or when you just can't get it out of your head because you were so immersed in it!

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    1. I was constantly thinking about this book when I was too busy to read it! My kids have been sick, so even my nighttime reading was pushed aside. It took me longer than I would have liked to get through Courting Darkness, but I'm already re-reading it to make sure I didn't miss anything the first time through! I've been super distracted all week, and it's an excuse to revisit this world (though I should be reading the original trilogy, too). <3

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  7. This is the second review I've read today. I loved the first two books and own the third, but have not read it. Looks like I need to get my butt in gear!

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    1. That's how I felt after reading this one! I need to go back and finish the original trilogy, haha. :)

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  8. I cannot wait to read this one, looks so good!

    Ash @ JennRenee Read

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    1. Have you read the His Fair Assassin trilogy?

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  9. I've been wanting to read the His Fair Assassin series for a long time and I'm so excited for Courting Darkness!

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    1. I'm definitely going to re-read Grave Mercy this year and finish the rest of the His Fair Assassin series! It's been too long since I read the first book, and Courting Darkness has me itching to dive back into that world. I hope you love it!

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  10. One of my favorite series, and I loved this new book! Glad you enjoyed it as well. YOu should definitely go finish the original series. Great review!

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    1. They're on my list to read this year, so hopefully everything works out! LaFevers is an amazing writer -- love her stories! Everything is so intricately woven together, and the characters are well-developed and relatable. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I'm happy you enjoyed this one too! <3

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  11. I'm so happy you love this too! It really was fantastic and I'm so excited we get one more!

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    1. Right?! I'm already excited about the next book! I'm a little bummed it's going to be a duology instead of a trilogy, but I'll take what I can get. I'm just happy there are more books set in the His Fair Assassin world. :)

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  12. Awesome cover. Sounds interesting and glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Thanks! Have you read Grave Mercy? Do you enjoy books about assassins? It also reads a little like historical fiction, which isn't something I typically go for. :)

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  13. YES! Can't wait to read it. Glad you were able to jump back into the series after a break.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I'm so happy you got a copy! I hope you love it as much as I did. <3

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  14. This is one that I really want to read. Beast and Sybella are fantastic characters and I am really excited to learn that they play a big part in this story. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Are Beast and Sybella in one of the other books? I'm assuming they are since you already know their names! Hah! I've only read Grave Mercy, so they're likely in one of the other two books. I adore Beast and everything about him. His looks, personality, battle lust -- all of it. He's just a genuinely good person, and his looks do not matter to Sybella. She cares about him as a person, and it's the same for him with her. Ahh -- love! <3 ;)

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  15. It's a really intrguing one and I didn't even know about it!

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    1. I'm happy I could bring it to your attention! You should also try Grave Mercy! It's the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy -- same world.

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  16. Great review! I read this one without having read any of the books in the trilogy and am now looking forward to going back and reading those other books to learn more about this world.

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    1. I've only read Grave Mercy, so I'm looking forward to finishing that series before the second book in the duology is released (fingers crossed). It's such a complex and fascinating world! It reads like historical fiction, which I don't usually go for, but I'm loving this. <3

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  17. It's great to hear that this is a good continuation! I really am going to have to reread His Fair Assassin first, I think it would bother me not to remember who everyone was and where everyone came from (especially with all the politics...)

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    1. They can be read on their own without any confusion. I wasn't familiar with some of the characters, but it didn't hurt my understanding of the story. However, I like to read things in order, too. It's weird for me to read a spinoff before finishing the original series, but it worked! I really enjoyed Courting Darkness, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

      As for the politics, there are different issues each book, and they don't really overlap (that I've seen so far). :)

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  18. I didn't realize this was not part of the previous series. 👍✨

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    1. It's a spinoff, but I'm learning that most of the characters will be familiar! Have you read the original trilogy?

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  19. omg I just typed out this long comment and it disappeared UGH. Basically I said yayyy glad you loved it! And then asked if you thought it might be more enjoyable if I reread the others first before this one. I just don't know if I have that kind of time lol too many other ARCs and new books to read, too!!!

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    1. Oh no! I haaate it when that happens! I spend forever typing out my thoughts, and then my head empties when my comment disappears. I can never remember what I said, or how I worded it. I do think it would be more enjoyable if you read the original trilogy first. Apparently, all of the characters are familiar, and I think it might be more fun to revisit them and know how they got to where they are now. I do agree that it's a lot of books! However, it was totally okay and enjoyable on its own. :)

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