Review: And I Darken | Brutal & Gripping

Review: And I Darken | Brutal & GrippingAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror's Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 475
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five-stars

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.

It has been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading And I Darken, and I honestly still don’t know quite how to put my thoughts into words. This is brutal historical fiction that reads like fantasy. Kiersten White took the tale of Vlad the Impaler here and gender swapped it. Lada’s role in the series is based off of the historical Impaler and it was terribly difficult to tear myself away from the page. I didn’t want to put the book down. And if I can’t get Kiersten White to write a novel based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then this is the next best thing.

From the moment I heard about this book, I knew I would love it. Lada’s growth is this story is painstakingly achieved. She beats impossible odds and claws her way up the chain of command as far as the Ottoman Empire will let her. She makes friends and enemies along the way – but she also looses people. Lada’s tale is both incredible and tragic in its own way. She’s clever and the most dangerous enemy anyone could have.

Radu is a very interesting character. I honestly feel bad for him in a lot of ways. He’s much smarter than everyone originally expects him to be though and makes great strides to become his own strong and equally conflicted character. In a story where Lada could easily take the spotlight, Radu unknowingly lurks in the background with his own light.

Mehmed… to be honest, with this book I couldn’t decide whether I liked him or not for most of it. All things considered, I feel like Mehmed has the capability of being incredibly benevolent and selfish.

None of things characters have been dealt an easy hand. Kiersten White paints a very vivid and harsh world, and these characters are molded very much by the environment in which they live.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who’s the least bit fascinated by Vlad the Impaler. Just be prepared that when you pick this book up, you’ll want to binge read the entire series.

“Not Dragwlya,” she said. “Lada Dracul. I am no longer the daughter of the dragon.” She lifted her chin, sights set on the horizon. “I am the dragon.”

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