Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult, Teen
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House)
Date published: June 28, 2016
A digital copy of the book kindly provided by the publisher through 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.
I absolutely LOVED this book!
When browsing through NetGalley, the first thing which caught my eye was the beautiful cover. Once I clicked on the cover, and opened up the page, I became even more intrigued because of the title. The moment I read the book’s summary (or blurb), I knew that I absolutely had to get this book.
Being a Romanian, born in the heart of Transylvania, the story of Vlad Dracul (or Vlad the Impaler) is a story which I grew up with. It is also a story close to my heart. When I read in the summary on NetGalley that this book would not only take place in the time period of Vlad Dracul, but that Vlad Dracul himself would be the main character, that was enough for me to want to read the book. And when I read that Vlad Dracul would be a GIRL rather than a male, I was even more interested!
I needed this retelling of the Vlad Dracul story in my life!
And Kiersten White did not let me down.
I immediately became immersed in Wallachia, and later all the more immersed in the various settings within the Ottoman Empire. White’s language was descriptive, without going overboard and drowning the reader in explanatory phrases. It was incredibly easy for me to imagine myself walking through the forests of Wallachia, as well as the beautiful buildings within the Ottoman Empire.
The characters were both lovable and hateable. I believe that this is a good thing though! Characters made decisions at times, which definitely frustrated me, but I will argue that this made them more believable, more real. I find that I lose interest in storied wherein a character, or characters, are always perfect. I will, however, not go into further detail about the characters, so as to avoid spoiling the story.
The writing itself was very good! And I especially enjoyed the wit radiating off the pages of this book—particularly in the dialogue between characters. White was able to portray moments which were light and humorous, as effectively as moments which were charged with sexual tension, and also moments of intense sadness and pain. I found myself, both, laughing and crying while reading this book.
While I originally thought that almost 500 pages is longer than the usual length of a YA novel, I found that this was still a quick read for me. I did not lose interest in the story at any point, and I constantly found myself looking for gaps in my busy schedule, where I could open up my Kobo and read at least a few more pages!
White and her publisher did not lie in the least, when stating that within And I Darken,
HEADS WILL ROLL, BODIES WILL BE IMPALED…AND HEARTS WILL BE BROKEN
I highly recommend this book to readers of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, as well as readers of YA and Romance, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a hardcover version of this book on June 28th!