Book: And I Darken by Kiersten White
Expected Publication is June 28, 2016 by Delacorte Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 496
Where I Got It: I got a digital ARC from netgalley.com in exchanged for a fair and honest review
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #1
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Alternate History
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.
And I Darken is such a cool book! I don’t even know where to begin…this book just pulls you in, and you can’t stop reading until you’re actually done with the book!
What I like the most about And I Darken is that it has an alternate history feel to it, which I think is why some people tagged it as fantasy. Even though there are no fantasy elements in And I Darken, it does have a fantasy feel to it. And who knows, it might become more of a fantasy later on in the series!
It was a lot more political than I expected- not in a bad way, because you really see the politics of the time. It’s definitely based on history- Dracula is a teenage girl in this book- but I’m not completely sure how historically accurate it is. Either way, you really get a good feel for what it might have been like when Lada was alive.
Speaking of Lada, she is resilient, cold and calculating. She knows what her role is in this world, and she doesn’t want to play along. And it was really interesting to see, because Lada struggles with Lada’s dislike of women and her feelings on her own femininity. Yet she comes to realize that power comes in a lot of different forms and women have their own power, though it might be different than the power that the men in their world have.
Her relationship with her brother is really different than what we see in a lot of YA. Her brother, Radu, is a lot more delicate than Lada, and that both frustrates her and draws out a protectiveness she has for her brother. They are everything that the other is not, and it makes for an interesting relationship between them.
We also see both Christianity and Islam explored, but it’s done in a way that’s not preachy. And we Islam presented in a way that’s not judgmental, which is really refreshing, because it easily could have gone in that direction. Instead, it’s seen as a religion in it’s own right, and it’s not seen as good or bad…it just is. There’s something very neutral about how religion is presented in this book, and I really like that.
As for Mehmed: both Lada and Radu think about him a lot. He does change their lives, and we see how much he changes their relationship. I think I’m just going to leave it at that, because I’m not completely sure how I feel about Mehmed.
As much as I liked this book, it did feel dense, and partly why it took me a while to get through it was because I needed to take random breaks to let everything sink in. And Lada, Radu and Mehmed seemed so young to be in the positions they were in. I really forgot that they were around 14 or 15 at the end of the book, and even though it probably wasn’t unusual for that time period, it still seems so foreign. Then again, I think a re-read is in order, because there’s so much in this book that I’m sure I’ll see some things I missed the first time around.
4 stars. I really liked it, and I love the take on Dracula! I can’t wait to read the next book.