I would like to thank the publisher, Delacorte Press, for the free copy in exchange for a review.
Title: AND I DARKEN
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre/s: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 475 pages [hardcover]
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis from the Publisher:
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.
Wow. The only thing I can say in general is that Kiersten White went all out on this one. If you’ve read any of Ms. White’s previous books, you will know that AND I DARKEN is several steps up from those releases with its ambitious take on several elements, which Ms. White has seamlessly weaved together to craft this one heck of a journey.
Where to start gushing, though? I’m going to start enumerating stuff at the moment because I have so much feelings and reactions about this book.
The Pacing – The story starts the very day our protagonist, Ladislav (Lada for short), is born, and goes on to show us how she and her brother, Radu, have lived all throughout their childhood and teenage years. While this might sound a bit over-telling and dragging, I’m telling you now that it is not, and that the book needs all those 470+ pages to show us where the two siblings come from and what they have gone through before the book picks up the pace around the time they both meet Mehmed. It may be a bit slow for others at the start, but I understand that this first book is here to set the foundation for our characters’ development, and world-building of the story, in general. The whole telling might have been boring, but Kiersten White’s writing weaves its magic to pull us in without getting bored.
Which brings me now to The Writing – I love Kiersten White’s writing here. I think that her writing has improved so much, like if I read Illusions of Fate first, for example, followed by AND I DARKEN without having any idea who the author is, I might think they’ve been written by two different authors. (P.S. I like Illusions of Fate. It’s not bad, but AND I DARKEN is several steps up). It’s got that right mix of good lines, narration, descriptions, among others. Plus, I love the fact that the story is written in the third POV! This is probably why I love it so much, too? Haha. While it’s been written in the third POV, the story shifts from Lada and Radu’s perspectives. Love the lines and dialogues, too!
The Characters – The main thing that comes to mind is that Lada is so in-character. Lol. Love, love, love the consistent characterizations here, especially when it comes to Lada and Radu! Mehmed is the love interest, but he pales in comparison to these siblings. In Young Adult novels, we usually read about the female protagonist losing herself when she falls in love and all, but no, not Lada. Lada is fierce all throughout! I, however, cringe sometimes whenever she rejects any kind of female empowerment that is not associated with fighting. The women she interacts with in the story try to show her how women can employ power and other strengths that does not only involve brute strength and brawns. So it doesn’t sit well with me that she is close-minded to that, and that she also could have fought for the rights of fellow females in the palace.
Now there’s Radu. Oh my, Radu. That twist about Radu, that big reveal on page 250 had me screaming internally in a totally good way, of course! Haha. Sweet, baby, Radu, I feel for you. J Praying for his happy ending. ❤
The Genre/Themes – This is not a love story per se; I’m telling you now. This book is all kinds of things, and involves way too much elements. It’s primarily historical fiction (the history buff in me is jumping with joy; the Ottoman Empire, baby!), so you’d get wars (though I was hoping for much badass battle/fight scenes, but I’ll let it slide ‘cause this book is mainly for character development), power-struggles, imperialism, and the likes. There are also LGBT themes (as an Asianist&History Buff, I would love to talk about the historical context of this one in a separate discussion, hihi.), and there is also the talk of religion (Christianity vs Islam).
Overall, the book has a complex narrative with its hodgepodge of themes coupled with good writing. And for that, I give it four stars out of five! J More fight scenes in the next book, please. And another pretty cover, too? Hihi.
Review is also on Goodreads (Click Me). ❤
Books that have been sent by publishers and authors to me are posted in this blog and on Goodreads. Books which are NOT sent by publishers and authors are mostly posted on Goodreads only. See you on Goodreads ya’ll! Happy reading!