Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Retelling, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

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.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

And I Darken was incredible. I thought this was amazing alternate history because it felt SO real. Kiersten White took details of real countries, people, religions, and politics and twisted them just so. And the characters! Oh my god. From the opening pages, you are painted a very stark picture of brutal Lada and her scared little brother Radu. They ensnared me immediately. But as with any good story there are layers and twists in every relationship. It’s all so complicated in the best way, sometimes loving and sometimes toxic. 

The story is definitely slower paced but not boring; this is a long haul kind of story and we’re setting the scene. The political machinations, the attention paid to religion, and the moral grayness of characters, the sometimes Machiavellian attitudes, really do bring A Game of Thrones to mind. Every action has a reaction. I also loved the diversity in every aspect, from culture (Turkish/Wallachian/Ottoman/etc) to religion (I learned a lot about Islam!) to sexuality (an unexpected but very welcome surprise). Everything was woven into the story seamlessly. I can’t say enough about the writing, I thought it was wonderful. White really knows how to weave a complicated web.

There are also some excellent kisses, a few ships, and some complicated romances, though not in the ways you might expect (no spoilers here!). It was also interesting to watch how Lada and Radu’s characters shifted over time, learning to soften and strengthen in turn.

The book faltered slightly in the middle just because it is a looong book and it can’t keep up the pacing the whole time. And it some ways I expected plots that happened later in Lada/Vlad’s life. But where the story leaves you is perfect and I can’t wait to follow Lada, Radu, and Mehmed to see how their lives intertwine; loyalty (to family, to yourself, to your country) are big themes throughout. If you love historical fiction, and a lot of political cleverness mixed with action, violence, and romance in a non-Western setting, you should read And I Darken.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Morgan Loves the WWE
Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

About Morgan @ Gone with the Words

Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram
Morgan lives in the Bay Area with her husband and her beagle. When she's not snuggling or taking care of Andy, she is reading, watching Disney movies, or drinking tea. Sometimes all at once! Her twitter tends to be bookish by day, sporty by night, and active all. the. time. Her TBR pile is out of control, as I'm sure you can sympathize. She is a big fan of caps locks, OMGs, movies, Chris Hemsworth, and anything British. Tweet her!

14 Responses to “Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White”

  1. Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense

    Lovely review! I quite agree, there are so many morally gray characters throughout, it’s the kind of story where you can’t really point to a “good” or “bad” guy and I just love that. I really haven’t come across a book quite like this one with its interesting characters and amazing setting, it was all so good.

  2. Alexa S.

    You’ve summed up AND I DARKEN beautifully in your review, Morgan! I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. It was particularly easy because I felt SO invested in both Lada and Radu, and I will happily read more books about these two ;)

  3. Lyn Kaye

    The pacing was one of the downsides of the novel, but it was able to keep my attention, so bravo! Lada is a heroine that we need! I love my frilly princesses, but I also want one crowned in gore and sashed in blood. Lada’s complexity was just amazing, and I loved how I started to delve into the real history of the Ottoman Empire when I read this novel. I seriously cannot wait for the next one!

  4. Jessie

    Aaaah! So many many props to Kiersten White for this. The setting is so well-rendered; the amount of research must have been impressive. I loveloved how complete the world felt. Lada might only live in part of it, but it felt so realistic.

    I loved the dynamic between Radu and Lada. Both act opposite of what is expected of their genders and both forge their own way in a hostile environment. I love them both soooo much. I think Lada is my favorite but Radu is an excellent character. Strangely the one I cared least about was Mehmed.

    Yep pacing in the middle is the only real issue here. I didn’t mind too much ebcause I read so fast but for other readers I can def see the issues when it gets there.

    Lovely review! Great pics and I am SO UNSURPRISED to see Seb here.

    • Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Seriously, copious amounts of research! It was fantastic from that point of view alone. You really hit it on the head with Radu and Lada, I felt the same way! I liked Mehmed but I also agree that I cared about him the least out of the three. Hahahah thank you!!! To be fair, Kiersten White saaaaid that she wished he was younger bc he would be the perfect Radu. I had to ;)

  5. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

    Ahh I 100% agree with your review! I loved how complex this book was and that really took me by surprise. It almost didn’t feel like YA to me even though its about YA characters. The ending was so great and I agree that this book really is just setting the stage for whats to come. I still think about this book, even weeks later. Loved it and I can’t wait for the rest!

Leave a Reply

Want to include a link to one of your blog posts below your comment? Enter your URL in the website field, then click the button below to get started.