So I know I was really dead-set against historical fiction when I finished my review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, but I think And I Darken by Kiersten White may have stolen me over again?? I just don’t know!!
I feel like it’s really hard to put into words how good this book was and how much I enjoyed and appreciated almost every aspect of it. TBH I thought this book was going to be another dumb, boring, typical YA fantasy book just based on its title and the cover but boy was I wrong.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
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.
Very original, and yet I feel like it’s so incredibly real. That’s the number one thing I love the most about this story – it feels so real. It’s rough, gritty, toxic, nasty, heart-wrenching, and entirely plausible. It doesn’t spare feelings. It doesn’t spare intolerances or grudges. And it was incredibly political but in such a way that it was still very digestible and fascinating.
15th century Eastern Europe? Sign me up. I’ve never read anything fictional like this set in this setting and it was so well-delivered by Kiersten White that I struggle to believe she wasn’t born in the Ottoman Empire and raised there herself.
So much love. And so much hate. I really enjoyed the complexity, and once again realness of the characters in this story. Lada is disgusting but wonderful, Radu is beautiful but selfish, Mehmed is kind but unrelenting. And I don’t like Mehmed, for the record. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to – but I know that I really don’t like him.
I loved this book and I’m incredibly thrilled that Kiersten White decided to make this a series.
I give And I Darken 5/5 stars
And there goes day 11 of the 14 Day Reading Challenge!
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