And I Darken by Kiersten White
Published by Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 28 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Series: The Conqueror's Saga - Book One
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest 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.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.
And I Darken is such an addictive book to read. It's dark, captivating, well-written, compelling, and filled with badasses from beginning to end. It truly sinks its teeth into you and hooks you until you have finished reading the book. Told in third person perspective, this original novel will definitely leave you astound and wanting more.
"I cannot afford to lose you, too"
"You cannot lose something you do not own. Take me with you"
The book opens to Lada's birth. Her father waiting impatiently to find out the sex but when he finds out that his wife had given birth to a girl he is far from pleased. He names the girl after himself and at least hopes that she may be pretty so he can marry her off. A year later, Lada's brother Radu is born. At this point, we see that their mother does not care for Lada nor Radu and has a nurse raising them both. To their fathers disappointment Lada is not considered rather pretty and Radu is far too sensitive compared to Lada's fierce and intimidating personality.
As years go by, the siblings continue to be raised by their nurse. Lada continues to surprise everyone while Radu remains forgotten. The siblings do not really have much of a relationship with one another, though it doesn't help that Lada doesn't really understand emotions - or rather emotions that leave you in a way vulnerable. Then one fateful day, their father sends them off as means for a treaty but he never comes back for either of his children.
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.
I wouldn't really label this book as a "fantasy" novel and it most certainly should not be compared to Game of Thrones. It doesn't contain any magic or dragons. It mainly portrays a type of historical fictional standpoint, a type of alternate retelling of history. Mainly set in Transylvania during the height of the Ottoman Empire. It also focuses on a rather political and religious point throughout the book.
Lada is such a freaking badass. She is not someone to mess around with, that is for sure. Since she was born she is fierce, strong, a little psychotic, and resilient.As she grows older she becomes more cold, calculating, harsh, and cruel. She quickly learns what it means to be a woman and she is definitely not going to play along and be a plaything to anyone.
"On our wedding night," she said, "I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied."
The novel explores her disdain for femininity and confusion over whether she should deny or defend her own feelings and femininity. However, she sometimes appears to be rather stupid. No matter, she is still a refreshing and fascinating character to read.
"The sooner you stop fighting, the easier your life will be. That is what your purpose is."
Lada stood so abruptly she nearly fell backward. "No."
However, And I Darken doesn't not only focus on Lada. The book also focuses on the experiences of her brother Radu. Radu is a sensitive, beautiful, boy whose weakness both agitates yet draws the protection of his sister Lada. At times, Radu seemed to be the more sly sibling when he wasn't overcome with the fact that he was the "useless sibling". Their sibling relationship is unlike anything I have read in YA. It is filled with jealously, anger, frustration, sadness, betrayal, and misunderstandings.
It was such a delight to read through these very unique characters as they explore so much challenges, difficulties, and more. It was something that drew me further into the novel and made me like it even more.
"The last time she was up here, she had been...staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames."
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. Everything was beautifully detailed, intricationally designed, and just overall an unputdownable read. I recommend you check this novel out if you enjoy historical fiction and/or YA novels.
KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times. Visit Kiersten online at kierstenwhite.com and follow @kierstenwhite on Twitter.