Release Date: June 28, 2016
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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’ve been looking forward to And I Darken since it was announced, and I was beyond excited to receive an advanced copy to read and review. I have met Kiersten White several times, but this is the first book I have ever read of hers (I read her short story in My True Love Gave To Me and I own copies of her other books that I haven’t gotten around to yet). I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up one of her books because oh boy, I was impressed.
And I Darken begins with Lada’s birth and her nurse praying she’ll be ugly. We watch Lada grow up and I love how tough, fierce, and protective Lada is from even a young age. Even though Lada would never admit it to him, she loves her younger brother Radu dearly and would do anything to protect him. About half of the novel takes place during Lada and Radu’s childhood, specifically their pre-teen years. This backstory is a little slow, but it is so necessary to understand the characters’ later motives.
Speaking of character motives, it was heartbreaking watching Lada make decisions she thought were the best way to protect Radu and Radu interpreting them as her not loving nor caring about him. Kiersten White captured this perfectly, and I was hurting for both of them. I just wanted Radu to realize that Lada does love him deep down and was only trying to protect him.
Once Lada and Radu are moved to the capital, the story’s pacing starts picking up. There, they met a boy their age crying in the gardens. They make fast friends with Mehmed, the sultan’s third son, and go off to live with outside of the city. However, after both of his older brothers die and his father decides to retire, Mehmed is thrust onto the throne as a twelve year old who is not yet ready to rule. After two assassination attacks, Lada and Radu decide that Mehmed needs to be off the throne until he is older. They conspire behind his back with his mother in order to force his father to come back as sultan.
I loved how much the plot focused on politics. Where Lada was fierce and cruel, Radu was timid and soft-spoken. Radu used his likability to become confidants of the families in the court so that he could be on the inside as a spy for Mehmed. Another focus was on religion, which I was surprised by. I wasn’t expecting that to be a central part of the story, but it was and considering the time period, it makes perfect sense.
Overall, I loved reading And I Darken and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment!
*This ARC was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.*
Jesssays:July 6, 2016 at 1:17 PM
Ahhh I REALLY want to read this one!! The cover is beautiful and this will actually be my first Kiersten White novel, so it’s definitely highly anticipated! Wonderful review! 😀
P.S. Your blog is absolutely gorgeous #goals
Jordansays:July 6, 2016 at 8:24 PM
I hope you love it! And thank you! You just made my day! 🙂
Samantha Esays:July 6, 2016 at 3:03 PM
I loved this one so much. And I Darken is my favorite read of 2016 so far. I just love the darkness, Lada as a female, all the history thats interwoven, and so much more. Your review perfectly encapsulates how I felt while reading this book! I loved reading your review!
Jordansays:July 6, 2016 at 8:25 PM
And I Darken is definitely one of my favorite reads this year as well! Thank you! <3
Inah @ The Bibliophile Confessionssays:July 7, 2016 at 9:56 PM
I’ve seen and heard this book just about everywhere and I’m glad people are giving mostly positive thoughts about it. Now I just skimmed your review because I haven’t read it yet and I’m really excited to! So happy you had a great time reading this!
Jordansays:July 8, 2016 at 9:56 AM
Thanks! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you get the chance to read it! 🙂
CWsays:August 11, 2016 at 4:26 AM
I’ve seen this book everywhere and I can’t wait to find myself a copy. I love what you’ve written about the characters, and now I’m definitely VERY curious to see more of Lada and Radu.
Thank you for the lovely review. <3
Jordansays:August 11, 2016 at 3:32 PM
Thank you!! <3 I hope you love And I Darken as much as I did!