Hello book lovers!
Today I am doing a review of And I Darken by Kiersten White.
It’s a historical fiction novel set in the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
p.s. I LOVE THIS COVER (ITS SO PRETTY!).(4 / 5)
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.
Lada and Radu are the daughter and son of the Dragon, ruler of Wallachia. When their father leaves them in the Ottoman Empire on their own, they have to find their place in a world full of people who they hate and who hate them.
What I loved:
One of the things that made me thoroughly enjoy this book is Lada’s character. She is strong, determined and not afraid that others might see her as different. She isn’t like other girls, she doesn’t want to get married and isn’t worried about how pretty she is. Her only worry is of Wallachia and becoming its rightful ruler. Her fierce, strong-willed behavior an even come off as cruel and uncaring, however that isn’t true. Lada’s behavior and fight is how she speaks up and shows her love of something (if she is willing to fight for you, you know she cares). I found her compelling, honest and slightly crazy (but what awesome character isn’t a little bit nuts?).
Not only do I love Lada but also her contrast to her brother Radu. Radu is soft, a crier and someone who genuinely cares about the welfare of others. I really love how they compliment each other in a way throughout the story and put aside what their gender should be like in terms for who they are.
One (or two) final points on characters would be LBGTQ+ representation and imperfect characters. I won’t give away the LBGTQ+ characters (that will spoil the fun of you figuring out who it is) but I loved seeing the diversity and the realistic portrayal of what those characters have to go through. I love that ALL of the characters in this novel have flaws. I feel like I have been reading a lot of YA books recently where a character can do no wrong or is seemingly perfect. That isn’t the case here, things go wrong, the characters are going through the process of growing up and having to make decisions that no teenager should have to make, and again its great to see something where this type of obstacle is at least somewhat realistically portrayed!
Okay so if I’m being honest part of my love for this book is the historical aspect. If you give me historical fiction there is a higher chance that I will like it because HISTORY IS COOL and its our past and has always been something I have been interested in! But its about Vladimir the Impaler but in the form of a girl… could it get much cooler? (my answer to this is no, no it could not).
So the final good thing that I will talk about is the underlying corruption theme that occurs throughout the novel. I don’t know why but I am always very intrigued and really enjoy books that talk about corruption with the government. This book does not fail in this category, White discusses corruption in both the Ottoman Empire and Wallachia and the attempts to eradicate it.
What I wasn’t a fan of:
There wasn’t too much for me to talk about in this category, however one thing that did bother me slightly was the lack of female characters. There are only four that I can think of that had a larger presence and three of them are rather minor characters who aren’t reoccurring throughout the novel. I understand the need to make Lada stand out to support her characterization and that it is part of the history, but there has to be other girls like Lada that feel the need to fight and say what they would like, right? I just wish there was more of a resounding stand for female presence than just one character (even though I ADORE what Lada stands for).
The only other negative thing for me was that as it is a historical novel, it is expected that there will be slow spots in the novel to build up background information and this occurred in this novel. There were parts of the book where I found myself waiting for more human-human interaction to occur or for the action to pick up. However, it wasn’t a lot of the novel and in general I found this book had a good pace for a historical fiction book!
Overall, And I Darken by Kiersten White is a fantastic historical fiction but yet also YA novel that portrays some realism through its characters and kept me interested!
Have you read And I Darken? What did you think of it?
What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?