by Kiersten White
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publish Date: 7th July 2016
Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK
Book: #1 of The Conquorer’s Trilogy
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Voodoos
Popsugar Challenge #8. A book set in Europe
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.
I can honestly say this is my favourite book of 2016 so far! And I Darken was full of depth, intrigue and devastation. The only time I put this down was when it was forcible removed from my hands or when my eyes were so overwhelmed with fatigue that they wouldn’t focus and had black spots floating around in them. Even then I dreamt of running through the pine trees listening in on secret conversations about power and murder. It was fantastic!
And I Darken follows the life of Lada and Radu as they grow up. We watch them as they learn from every one of their misfortunes, every one of their mistakes and every time they are betrayed. They are two very different characters but forever linked by their blood and their shared past. Lada is the strong big sister, determined and aggressive while Radu, the younger brother is quiet, loveable and vulnerable. They both know what they want though, and aren’t afraid to manipulate those around them to get what they want. They will do anything, sacrifice anything, sacrifice anyone, to get what they want because that’s what they learnt from their father.
Lada is probably the most twisted character I’ve ever read about and yet everything she thought, said and did made sense! Some how I felt every move she made was justified and that scared the hell out of me because she did some cruel and horrible things in this book. I loved that she was a strong independent female in a time when that was unheard of and that she refused to be less than the men around her. She was mesmerizing.
It took me a while to fall in love with Radu. For the first third of the book Radu was pathetic and whiny, the complete opposite of Lada. But it wasn’t long before he started to realise he needed to grow up and wow what a transformation! I have heard some people compare this to Game of Thrones and I can see where they’re coming from, Radu would be Tyrion Lannister. He used the way other people perceived him in order to manipulate them. If anything he was the clever sibling. The likeable sibling in the end.
The plot is a twisted tapestry of politics, religion, sex and lies. It’s so beautifully crafted that it appeared seemless, faultless a dark and brutal look at history through a new set of eyes. This is a rare and amazing find and I yearn to read the next instalment from this wonderful series. It will be MINE! (Sorry channeling my inner Lada).