Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
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.
Ever since I heard about this book a couple months ago, I was really excited for it. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. The simple premise of this book completely drew me in. The idea of an alternate history where Vlad the Impaler is a woman was extremely intriguing. I loved that it took place in the 1400s during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
I loved the beautiful setting, the characters, and especially the way they were actual people in history.
It was so much fun reading through the characters as they grew; I thought that was really interesting and added to the roundness of the characters. All in all, amazing, intriguing read.
I loved and hated Lada. I loved and admired her constant strength and vigilance, but didn’t like her constant aggression towards anyone who tried to be kind to her. I understood where it came from, but still. I did enjoy the large amount of character development she went through. At the beginning, aside from being younger, she was angry and unhappy, but over the course of the book, she found her place (sort of). She grew and became a bit more happy with who and where she was. She also became a bit more open.
Something I really liked about her character and this book, is that she didn’t change who she was when she fell for Mehmed. Often times in young adult books, the girls will leave everything behind for the guy and she will completely change who she is. I absolutely loved that that didn’t happen with Lada. While I think it would have been better for her if she had stayed with the Ottomans, I’m really happy she didn’t fall into that popular trope and became her own person.
Which brings me to Lada deciding to lead Wallachia I guess I understand why she felt she needed t0 do it, but I know it will just cause trouble for the empires around it.
I felt so bad for Mehmed; he looked so absolutely heartbroken in the end.
I loved Mehmed and how he brought Lada and Radu closer together. I hope they sort through their issues and find a way to be closer again.
Another thing: I remember thinking to myself while I was in the middle of the book, about who I shipped more, Radu and Mehmed, or Lada and Mehmed. Wow, that was a terribly written run-on sentence. Whoops. Anyway, I still don’t know who to root for. Sometimes I think Radu was right; Lada doesn’t deserve Mehmed. She’s too harsh, and while I understand why, I think Mehmed deserves someone who loves him completely. Like, Radu. Radu killed me. He went through so much in his childhood and no one ever appreciated him.
Huma made me anxious every time she entered a scene. I’m pretty sure she’ll come back in the sequel to stir things up. I still can’t believe she killed that child. Again, I understand why, but it really wasn’t necessary.
Again, this was a really awesome, intriguing, and unique read. I would totally recommend to anyone looking for an interesting alternate history.