And I Darken by Kiersten White

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And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga)
By Kiersten White
Published by Delacorte Press
ISBN13: 9780553522310
Pages: 475
Genre: Historical Fiction

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.


thoughts

I have to admit that I put And I Darken off for quite some time intentionally. I was fearful of the mixed hype surrounding it. The synopsis screamed to be read, and I did not want to be disappointed. Fortunately, I was anything but and now am kicking myself for having waited so long to begin Kierstin White’s Conqueror’s Saga.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt: A book about a villain or anti-hero.
(Yes, I am counting Lada as an anti-hero here.)

The skinny: Lada and Radu Dragwlya find themselves ripped away from their homeland Wallachia and imprisoned wards of the Ottoman courts as part of an agreement between their father and the sultan. Abandoned and without anyone to trust, they soon learn they are puppets in a dangerous political game. Lada seeks vengeance and to return home, while Radu merely wishes to find a safe place to belong. When they meet the sultan’s heir, Mehmed, something unexpected begins to happens. The three will soon find loyalties, friendship and even love tested to the fullest extent.

And I Darken Aesthetic.pngAesthetic was created from various images collected on Pinterest.

These characters! I have to admit that I found myself fully committed not only to Lada, but Radu and Mehmed as well. It did not take long to establish a bond with each that would be hard to sever. Lada is complex and slowly developed through a series of layers revealed as new emotions she gradually encounters while growing into a women. Raised with a thick and viscous skin, she soon discovers she is riddled with her own weaknesses and feelings that she struggles to make sense of. Her morals and approaches are almost always questionable, but deep underneath lies something that appeals to the reader and begs to be explored. Radu is gentle and viewed as weak, but his strength surfaces in a different manner. He is cunning in terms of politics when it comes to speaking and making acquaintances. He also harbors a secret (that I so badly want to discuss but refuse to spoil) that evolves beautifully and realistically. I admired the author’s approach to his growth and eventual self-acceptance. Mehmed is doting, protecting and that guy that everyone wants to be with. He is accepted effortlessly and the perfect balance between Lada and Radu.

The plot and politics, yes more please! The political system implemented within was entirely conducive to the story-line and character development. It is well thought out and knowledgeable, presenting well-balanced exchanges of power and allegiances that fuel intrigue and drive the story forward at a rewarding pace. While leisurely at times, each transition is appropriately timed, fostering an immersive and cleverly emotional read that feels natural. This is a unique perspective of the effects that power and desire have on humanity, that actually challenges the reader to question whether there are lesser evils in life that must be considered at times.

A love story (or not) tucked within?! Yes, and I loved it! If you have not figured it out by now, there is a lot happening in And I Darken. This includes a potential love story that could not be referred to as a romance, but a distinct exploration of human emotions and the influences and impacts that growth, self-discovery and even politics have on them. I applaud White for presenting something that falls outside of common tropes.

Conclusion: While, I have seen this strangely classified as Fantasy, I am here to say it is not. But what it is, is an incredible approach to YA Historical Fiction that promises to continue to grow into something of true value. If you enjoy intriguing politics, tangible characters and immersive settings with a nice dose of diversity, this is a must!

Untitled design Enjoyed with Jasmine Lavender tea and a small amount of honey.

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

38 thoughts on “And I Darken by Kiersten White

  1. So if I read this, I have to approach it as YA Historical Fiction, which is good to know bc Long May She Reign was similar in that there was very little fantasy and more mystery…and The Valiant was pretty much ALL HF. I just like knowing going into a book what to expect!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad you pointed out that this book is not really Fantasy because I normally need big doses of it in order to enjoy anything that even smacks of Historical Fiction. I’m not saying I won’t ever read it, but it’s not looking like my cup of tea. Thanks for reviewing it. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay! Seeing you enjoy And I Darken makes me so happy! I really love this series so far and you are totally right: this should have been labeled historical fiction first. I’m waiting impatiently for Bright We Burn so I can dive into their world again. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, unless people aren’t aware it’s historical fiction… She did adapt the facts, but then again that doesn’t make it fantasy. And I loved the sequel as well! Quite different from the first book, but still very good. I hope you will enjoy it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Huh. You’ve seen this classified as fantasy? I wonder if that’s because people assume a Vlad Dragwlya retelling will be more Dracula than history…. Goodreads shows the most often shelved tags on their homepage for a book, so that could just be general ignorance.

    Anyway, I recently read this book and I’ve been putting off writing my review because, as you pointed out, there is SO MUCH happening here! I cannot decide on a favorite character, honestly. I love how clear the alternating perspectives are between Lada and Radu. And the history is so effortlessly tied in! I cannot wait to keep reading and see what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! I remember when this was first released and it seemed as even the marketing was geared towards a fantasy audience. I saw it shelved with YA fantasy in several book stores even. Maybe at some point there will be fantasy elements come into play, but I recall none in this book 😉

      I found that I really loved each character for their own reasons. All around, this was well balanced and written. I am eager to see your own thoughts!

      Like

  5. Yay!!! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this book as much as I did. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought it was a very solid YA historical fiction and the whole Vlad the Impaler retelling is soooooo cleverly done. Now I Rise (book 2) is a very different feel, but I enjoyed it just as much as the first 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have heard great things about this series and because of what the story is based on it has intrigued me a lot. Pretty cool to be wrong about this one after all the mixed thoughts people had about it. Quite glad that it turned out so great for you Danielle, it really sounds awesome. And you make it sound awesome too! Great review! 😀

    Like

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