Title: And I Darken Author: Kiersten White Series: The Conquerer's Saga Book 1 Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction Edition: Kindle Pages: 498 Published: June 28, 2016 Publisher: Delacorte Press
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 and a fearsome heroine. 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.
Sorry for the delay in posting this review. I needed to take some time to let the book sink in, gather my thoughts, and figure out how to put my feelings about this book into words and complete sentences… Because honestly, I was baffled…
This was a really tough book to rate and review. I was bouncing back and forth between a 2 star and a 3 star rating… And I ended up deciding on 2.75 stars, rounded up to 3.
The blurb says this book reads like Game of Thrones. I’ve never read Game of Thrones, but if it’s anything similar to this book, I wouldn’t want to read it. I expected this book to be full of fighting and war, exciting and fun. At the beginning, those expectations were fulfilled… But as the book continued, the excitement slowly dwindled… And so did my love for the main character, Lada Dragwyla.
Lada was introduced to us as a fierce, strong character. And I instantly fell in love with her. If you enjoy strong female leads, you would have been intrigued with Lada, as I was. But not even halfway through the book, her personality changes completely, and she was tamed into everything she never wanted to be. She was no longer the independent, tough female who reached through the pages, snagged me by my collar, and pulled me in. I kept hoping for the original Lada to return and make an appearance, but it never happened.
There was a good chunk of this book that could have been removed, and it would have made the story much better. At 40% in, it slowed up. Almost to a complete stop. It was mainly political from there on and at that point, I found myself having a hard time enjoying it. From the 40% mark to the 80% mark, absolutely nothing caught my interest…
A Note to Authors: A long book doesn’t always make a better book.
Something else I was truly baffled by, is the Fantasy tag. The only thing fantastical about this story is that it’s set in a fictitious world known as The Ottoman Empire. There’s nothing else in this story pertaining to fantasy… Nothing. Which is why the fantasy tag gives readers a false sense of hope going in.
What I did like: Radu, Lada’s brother. I enjoyed the fact that him and Lada were complete and total opposites. They couldn’t be more different if they tried. Radu was a sweetheart in a world where being soft, kind, and gentle gets you nowhere. I felt for him, and hoped that he’d persevere through his challenges and difficulties.
I’m an only child, so I’ve always liked books about siblings, and Radu and Lada’s relationship was very interesting. Although I wasn’t fond of the change in Lada personally, I did like the affect it had on her and Radu’s relationship. As the book progressed, their bond strengthened and I love that they ended up being close friends.
There’s also a little love triangle going on in the story. A very unexpected one! I won’t tell you who is struggling with their sexual orientation, since I don’t want to spoil it for you… But I will say that you will be shocked. Well. I was, at least.
And I Darken was a slow read. Although the plot sounded interesting, and the fantasy tag lured me in, it just really seemed to go nowhere for me. If you’re looking for a more political type story, then I’d recommend it. If you’re looking for Fantasy and action, I’d say pass this one up.
Date Read: 8/8/2016