And I Darken
By: Kiersten White
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Historical fiction, re-imagining
Page Count: 475
Synopsis: 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, 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.
The first section of the review will be spoiler free
I’m going to be honest with all of you, I picked this book up when I had some time before a dentist appointment and was looking for a new read. I was pulled in by its gorgeous cover, I hadn’t actually heard that much about it before. I am so glad I picked it up because man was it an exciting read. As the cover promises, it is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones or Throne of Glass. It is a re-imagining of the infamous story of Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for the Dracula story) as if he had been a girl named Lada. The story starts from Lada’s birth and follows her life, as well as her brother Radu’s through a dual POV. They were both such compelling characters in their own ways, even though they were so completely different. I didn’t always like Lada, or really understand her, sometimes I just wanted to scream at her and ask why on earth she was once again throwing everyone who loves her under the bus. However, she is an incredibly powerful and strong character, she really held the story for me with her commitment to only being herself, and her innate patriotism that drove her every move.
If you are looking for a book full of royal intrigue, battles, romance and incredibly compelling characters definitely give this book a read. I am not that familiar with the actual history of these characters and that region of the world, but I realize it’s probably not 100% historically accurate, but the masterful way White crafts this world made me feel like I was there, fighting alongside them.
The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because of the slow pace it started with. The first several chapters were more of a lead up to the action and for me they dragged out a bit, but other than that it was a fantastic read.
I love that Radu is gay, it adds another layer to his character and sadly even more difficulty to his life. Lada and Mehmed’s story was also very compelling, it was obvious he loved her, and that she loved him in her own way, but his whole situation with his concubines (and the fact that he kept conceiving kids with them) probably made things difficult. I was actually very happy that Lada chose to leave in the end, it really suited her character that she chose her country over anyone else. I was sad that her and Radu ended on such rocky terms, but hopefully they will have some wonderful reconciliation in the future books.
Have you read this series? what were your thoughts?