Series: , #1
Published by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers on June 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio Book
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN, Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING, and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy.
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.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.
“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”
I received an advanced copy of And I Darken this spring when I attended Yallwest. It sounded interesting, but I put it to the side as I tried to catch up on some reading. What I didn’t notice at the time I received it is a re-imagining of the life of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. Instead of a male, author Kiersten White changed Vlad into a female protagonist, and takes readers from the birth of this legendary character through his young adulthood. As Lada, readers also get a glimpse at what life was like for women of the time period. This story is full of action, political intrigue, and colorful characters.
At the heart of this tale is Lada (Vlad), her brother Radu, and the Sultan’t son, Mehmed. These three form an unlikely friendship that readers follow through the years. I found all three of these characters to be very complex and well thought out. White does a brilliant job matching her story to the real history of these people. Obviously, by making Vlad into Lada there were some huge differences between fact and fiction. However, the use of real history is enough to interest any history buff, but won’t put off those just looking for a great story.
Aside from the characters, what I loved most was that it was filled with diversity. Set during the Ottoman Empire the novel is filled with characters of color. Readers get to see what life in Romania was like during this time, as well as in Turkey under Ottoman rule. Not only that, but while Lada and Radu grow up in the Orthodox church in Romania, they later get exposed to the Muslim faith. White did a wonderful job showing Islam in a positive light. This was a nice breath of fresh air from all of the negative depictions in the media over the last 20+ years. Another way White further used diversity in this story was the inclusion of a few LGBTQ characters. Being gay during this time period was considered to be an anathema, and was often severely punished. By including the characters seamlessly into the story, White was able to give readers are very well structured world for her story to take place.
I’ve long been fascinated with the history of Vlad Tepes, and still found And I Darken to be surprising. Despite knowing how the story ends, I thoroughly enjoyed the manner in which White wants to take readers there. However, whether you know the story or not, this book still will manage to ensnare you within its pages. By viewing the story through Lada’s eyes, readers get taken on a different ride than they might anticipate. I can’t wait to read the next installment in this wonderful new series! If you love historical fiction, then you definitely need to pick this one up pronto. You won’t be disappointed.