And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: 6/28/2016
Source: ARC from BookCon 2016
*I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Read All About It:
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
Yes, yes, yes!!! A strong female lead, an entertaining cast of characters, and super intriguing gender bent historical fiction plot that leaves me NEEDING more – what else could I ask for from a book? Maybe an awesome cover too? Oh wait, check.
And I Darken easily shows White’s growth as an author since her first book Paranormalcy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Evie, but the character’s complexities and the problems they have to deal with are much greater in And I Darken, but still beautifully written and just as relatable as the characters in past books. Plus the sensory detail is great. When Lada thinks of home she often mentions the Wallachia pine smell that is easy to imagine.
The book is set in the Ottoman Empire which I found to be a refreshing break from ordinary school settings or fictional worlds. It was interesting to know that the political issues, gender issues, and battles over land were all based around problems that actually happened so long ago. I also love that it features characters who practice Islam and are shown a positive light.
That being said, all of the characters are really unique despite that there are a lot of them. Lada especially is different from the typical heroine. She is fierce, stubborn, and incredibly loyal. She rebels against being a woman and the negative connotations that can come with that by trying to prove that she is just as capable as men. Luckily there are other strong females in the book who teach her that embracing being a female doesn’t mean she has to give up power over herself.
For as much as I love this book, it was not one I could read from start to finish. It never seemed like a chore to read it, but it just felt better spaced out. By the time I reached the end, I knew it was completely worth the read. I need the next one now!!!!