And I Darken by Kiersten White
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Pages: 496 Format: ARC Source: BEA
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 acquired this ARC from the publisher at Book Expo America. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
With And I Darken Kiersten White brings us an alt history set in the Ottoman Empire where Lada and Radu Dragwyla, royals of Wallachia, are pawns in their father’s political game. Forming a tenuous friendship with the Sultan’s son, Mehmed, leaves the three of them in a tangled mess of emotion and danger. There’s plenty to love and hate within these pages but I erred on the former more often than not.
This book is just so dark and gritty, filled with a ton of brutality and backstabbing. Alliances change so swiftly and the fate of countless lives hang in the balance. The Ottoman Empire was the perfect setting for this narrative and it was so eloquently depicted. White’s descriptions were vivid and detailed allowing the reader to immerse themselves within the pages.
I am so here for these characters. Lada is such a vicious terror, violent and outspoken. She’s loyal to few and her country means more than anything to her. Honestly I thought I was going to hate Radu but he really came into his own. He was the perfect contrast to his sister, kind, thoughtful, using tactics and charm to have an impact. Mehmed really bridged the gap between them with passion, idealism, and defiance.
While I enjoyed And I Darken, I had plenty of mixed thoughts throughout reading. This book felt so long and it wasn’t even 500 pages. The beginning was extremely slow and I had a hard time getting into the story. It only really pulled me in after 100 pages when Mehmed showed up. It probably didn’t help that the narrative spanned such a large period of time. Plus there were moments when I was just so disconnected from the characters.
Overall though I did enjoy the story Kiersten White was telling in And I Darken. With a different setting and characters than I’m used to, this dark twisted history kept me intrigued. I just had to know what was going to happen and I’ll definitely be continuing with the series. If you’re looking for a story that’s brutal and emotional at the same time, this one’s for you.
So have you read And I Darken yet? Are there any other stories set in the Ottoman Empire that I need to pick up? What other vicious female characters stand out in your mind? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!