Book Reviews · Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken (The Conquerer’s Saga, #1) by Kiersten White
Published June 28, 2016 by Corgi Childrens
RRP AUD $19.99
★★★☆

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.

And I Darken was one of my most anticipated reads of June 2016, but to be honest it kind of fell short of my expectations. I didn’t realise this was a historical-fiction-turned-fantasy novel, but I suppose it would’ve been better had I known that Lada was based off of Vlad the Impaler, so I would’ve been able to read up on him in preparation. I think it would’ve contributed to a generally better reading experience had I done that.

Since I’ve been following Kiersten on Twitter for a while, I’ve become accustomed to her hilarious tweets, and I suppose I expected a bit of humour or a slight whimsical touch to the book, however, it was so, so serious. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it would’ve been nice to have a little comic relief in there.

One thing I loved, was the role that the religion played in the book. While the themes were clearly there, Kiersten wasn’t shoving it down the reader’s throat, but instead offering an informational viewpoint on the Islam religion.

Lada Dragwlya is by no means a nice person and at the beginning, I loved how ruthless and generally badass she was, but the further I read onwards, the more I wanted character growth, because I couldn’t connect with her at all. I don’t mean for her to turn into a happy-go-lucky princess who is gentle and loves everyone, but I just wanted her to be able to express a little more emotions rather than just be harsh all the time.

With Radu, oddly enough, it was the opposite. He was too sweet and gentle the whole time and I wanted him to grow stronger. Also, I kind of got over his constant self-pity. At the beginning, I wasn’t a huge fan of the sibling relationship between him and Lada, because I felt as though Lada should have been protecting him in a way that wasn’t hurting him??? But toward the end as things played out I found myself getting worked up about their relationship, mostly because so much could’ve been avoided if they would have just talked to each other.

Now there’s the issue of the dreaded love triangle. I really don’t like love triangles, and this one wasn’t an exception. I found that it wasn’t really necessary and I didn’t really like Mehmed. I felt that he was too spoiled and generally not as invested in any sort of relationship.

Regardless, I’ll definitely be reading Now I Rise, hopefully I’ll get the character development I so desperately want! The series definitely has potential, but I just found too many things bothered me.

I received a review copy from the publisher

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ABOUT THE AUTHORKiersten White

KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times.

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