And I Darkenby Kiersten White
Published by Random House, Delacorte Press on June 28th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
I might own a few of Kiersten White’s previous books. I might not have read them yet, though. I may have to change that immediately.
Where Ms. White’s previous books were mostly based in fantasy, And I Darken is heavy on the historical. As a matter of fact, there’s a letter to the reader at the beginning of this book explaining how Ms. White spent time in Romania, visiting Vlad the Impaler’s mountain fortress, among other places. Ms. White was so affected by the history of the area that she was inspired to write a story based on Vlad Dracula… as if he was a ‘she’.
She is Lada.
[pullquote]“As the baby latched on with surprising fierceness, the nurse offered her own prayer.
Let her be strong.
Let her be sly.
And let her be ugly.” [/pullquote]
She and her younger, more beautiful brother Radu, try to please their father but never seem to gain any attention. Except when it suits his needs. When both children are sent away to be raised in the Ottoman Courts, Lada struggles with her new “home” while Radu thinks he may have finally found a place where he can fit in. And then they meet the sultan’s son…
The political machinations, the arranged marriages, fulfilling destiny – it was all in this one book. Oh, wait! There was romance, too!!! Heartbreaking romance that I knew, I KNEW would go the way it went. It was awesome!!!
Not particularly looking for romance? Then how about some blood and gore? Oh, there’s plenty of that. Ms. White does NOT hold anything back. Her writing is clear and concise but at the same time eloquent and engaging. It was extremely easy for me to picture in my head what was happening on the pages. No extra fluff to work around in this story. It’s just extremely well written.
While I was reading the story, I was consumed with finding out all I could about the Ottoman Empire. I’m horrible with my historical facts and I never realized that Vlad Dracula was alive around the same time as the Ottoman Empire. I would often take a break in my reading to quickly look up a map of the Ottoman Empire on the internet or to look up what the Turkish Sultans looked like. I was clueless that the Turks had concubines (yes, I am that clueless often).
But I’m not an idiot about this: this horrifyingly awesome story will be one of my favorites of 2016, with 2 more books in the series looking to top this one (good luck with that).