Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken
(And I Darken Series #1)
Publication Date: July 7, 2016
UK Paperback, 484 pages, Corgi Childrens
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

My Review

Vlad the Impaler as a teenage girl. For some reason I expected more violence. Not to say that there isn’t some violence, but I think it was toned down quite a bit. That could be good or bad, depending on your reading tastes.

The main characters of this book are, of course, Lada, or the genderbent Vlad, her brother Radu, and the son of the sultan, Mehmed. While Lada was an interesting character, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards Radu’s chapters after finding out what Radu and Mehmed’s relationship was like in real life. It sometimes seemed like Lada just got in the way, almost like the romance between her and Mehmed was unnecessary and she could have remained a he with the story instead told from Radu’s point of view. However, I stress the almost because I did enjoy Lada’s determination, and I think book two will really let her shine. As for Radu, he’s just a darling cinnamon roll. Love him! Mehmed, I’m wary of. I’ll make a final decision when I finish book three.

Now, the plot of the book wasn’t what I was expecting. Because I don’t know much about the Ottoman Empire and its history, I would suggest to readers life myself to sort of treat this story like a fantasy. It made my life easier to not try and place locations and such in the everyday world. If you know your history and geography, I applaud you, good sir or madam. Please don’t judge me.

My biggest complaint—but not a deterrent from keeping me reading—is that I was expecting more action. Everything was a little dry at first. I didn’t realize half the story would follow these characters in the years before they even reached their thirteenth birthday. I mean, again, if I knew more about the Ottoman Empire, maybe I would have realized this. But in general, things were pretty slow-paced and monotonous, not necessarily all in a bad way, though. I mean, I was hooked pretty early on because of the short chapters and unique atmosphere/tone of the book.

All in all, And I Darken is just different. It’s super different compared to Kiersten White’s other books. It’s different compared to what’s lining shelves today. And it’s different for me because it’s a historical fiction book, something I rarely read and enjoy. So don’t let the historical fiction category intimidate you, just give it a try if you haven’t already. It might surprise you.

*Note: I purchased a copy of the U.K. edition of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

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