Saturday, 7 May 2016

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White

Release date: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 336

Source: NetGalley

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 can't speak for any historical aspects of this book because I'm not familiar with it, but I really enjoyed the direction the story took! And I Darken is a re-imagining of sorts, where Vlad the Impaler is a girl - Lada. Kiersten White takes us through Lada's journey of growing up and becoming who she's meant to be.

Lada isn't at all like other girls of this time period. She's not demure or soft-spoken or feminine in any way. She's the complete opposite! Lada is more like a feral animal than anything else, at least she was as a child. That definitely made it hard to connect with her, even later on in the novel when she's older. All Lada wants is the approval of her father, who, as it turns out, doesn't really care about his children. At least, not as much as a father should. Lada and Radu only have each other, and they need to stick together to survive in an enemy empire.

I liked the world-building in this book, and loved that White included everything we need to imagine the scenes in our heads. I truly felt like I was there with them, and that's why I love White's writing. We get to see how the royals of the Ottoman Empire lived, as well as the complications and politics going on throughout.

The book started off quite slow for me, though. When I said White takes us through Lada's years of growing up, I really meant it. We see her at age five, and twelve, and thirteen, and some in between. I think it took about half the book for us to finally see Lada as a young adult. That's when things got really interesting, but it was annoying that it took so long to get there. I mean, it really shouldn't take half the book for the actual important parts to begin! If I wasn't such a huge fan of White's books and of fantasy in general, I might've even stopped reading about a third in.

Everything in Lada and Radu's lives changes the moment they meet Mehmed. Mehmed is the son of the sultan, and the heir to the throne. The three become fast friends immediately, but after they grow up their relationships start becoming complicated. There is romance and I quite liked it, but that's all I will say.

My favourite character, surprisingly, turned out to be Radu instead of Lada. He's Lada's younger brother, but only by a year, and he's everything Lada is not - gentle, calm, soft-spoken, and kind of a wimp when he was a child. But Radu grows up to realize he has a life of his own that doesn't have to revolve around Lada, and the relationship between the siblings changes too as they get older.

This is really a novel mostly about the characters' growth and personalities. The plot does progress quite a bit, and the ending was well done with no cliffhanger but still with that feeling that I needed the next book. It was interesting to read about the family dynamics in this period, especially how patriarchal the society was. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about these three great characters and how things turn out!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5

2 comments:

  1. Awesome review Richa :D I'm glad you liked this one, despite some issues. <3 I liked it a bit more :D It was awesome. But, lol, I did not like Radu much at all :D Love that we have different opinions. I loved Lada so so much :)

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  2. I almost laughed out loud at the feral animal part, haha. I think that if I read that, I will DEFINITELY be annoyed by how long it takes to watch her grow up, too. It's not like I want to just be thrown into the action straight away but taking half a book to really get there? That sounds pretty tedious.

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