Sunday, August 28, 2016

ARC Review: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Summary: 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.

Pages: 475

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


I went into And I Darken only knowing that it was a gender-bender retelling of Vlad the Impaler. I am a huge history nerd and the Ottoman Empire is my second favorite empire, the first being the Mongols, so I was extremely excited to see the lesser know empire have its turn in the spotlight. 

If you have yet to start And I Darken, I not only highly recommend doing so, but I also recommend starting it with only knowing the briefest knowledge of its plot. The story is so much richer and deeper if you go into it knowing little to nothing about the plot. I despise the summary of And I Darken because it alludes to/acknowledges plot points that occur halfway through the book. I do understand why they had to summarize the story that way, but I still dislike that it spoils a majority of the book. 

I was fortunate enough to receive this book in advanced thanks to a trade with the lovely Ava from Bookishness and Tea. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read And I Darken before a majority of its readers. I know I am being rather withholding about And I Darken, but I just need you to pick it up for yourself and enjoy it. This was my first Kiersten White book, but it certainly will not be my last. With White's memorable characters and a world and plot that deserves to be on HBO or Starz, And I Darken is easily one of the best books of this year.

Going into the story, I had assumed that there would be some sort of a fantastical element due to my knowledge of White's other books. The cover also gave me a vibe of a magical element, but it must have been referring to her writing. I was glad that the book was strictly historical fiction with a gender-bender twist because other elements might have overshadowed the amazing characters and world she created. I absolutely loved the fact that And I Darken begins with Lada's birth and continues until her late teens. It allowed me to really grasp all the characters because their upbringing had such a great impact on why the characters are the way they are.

While I enjoyed Lada and Mehmed, Radu has to be my favorite character. Although he seems to be cute and innocent, he has such a deceitfulness that I love. I do not know what that says about my character, but I enjoy that his sister would stab someone in the front while he would stab someone in the back. Each of them has a bravery for doing what they do, but while they grew up in the same place with the same parents, their personalities have created who they are. A close second is Nicolae. 

"I think of you like a sister. Like a brilliant, violent, occasionally terrifying sister that I would follow to the ends of the earth, in part because I respected her so much and in part because I feared what she would do to me if I refused (Nicolae, page #349).

While the book contains some deep and dark pages, Nicolae also provides the comic relief. If Radu and Lada had similar personalities, they might have grown up to have the relationship Nicolae and Lada do. I am glad that Nicolae's character was not used as a love interest. Although Lada did ask him to kiss her once, it was mainly to prove a point to herself pertaining to Mehmed, they have such a great friendship. I cannot wait to see what their friendship brings in the next book of this trilogy.

And I Darken is full of sass, romance, and action; a pairing that would speak to any audience. While their story has already been told in history books, I am excited to see White's take on it, especially the fall of Constantinople, as the trilogy continues.

Kiersten White and I at San Diego Comic-Con 2016

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