And I Darken by Kiersten White

25324111NO 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. – Goodreads

A teenage Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire? A female Vlad the Impaler? Whaaat?! Sign me up.

On one hand, this read was very unique, dark and brutal for a YA novel. I liked that. It was complex and graphic, two features that aren’t always typical for YA.

On the other hand, I kept getting distracted because it was so slow in so many parts. The epic battles were awesome, but in between I found myself straying away to do household chores instead.

I enjoyed the characters, who were all multidimensional and unique in their own ways. There are three primary main characters, whom I felt were all constructed and detailed well.

Lada is the main heroine and is pretty much what I would imagine a daughter of Cersei Lannister and Vlad the Impaler would be like: fierce as hell. Though the men make fun of her for being ugly, she kicks their asses in swordfighting and combat.

Radu is Lada’s younger brother—he’s the sensitive, gentle one. He’s the cuddly Samwell Tarly of this book. Sometimes I liked him, and sometimes I wanted to smack him and tell him to get a grip. Unfortunately, many other characters did that for me. His kindness definitely made the surrounding brutal events seem more…brutal.

Mahmed is the sultan’s son — Lada and Radu’s father is kind a jerk, and he sent them to live with the enemy (aka the sultan). Mahmed becomes their friend and peer, as they have to study with him and hang out with him.

White is a great writer — the book was certainly written well. The descriptions were fantastic, I could clearly see the world (cue Aladdin music). That being said, this book was SO not my cup of tea. It was so over-the-top brutal and graphic, and though the characters were complex, the story seemed to only prey on their weaknesses and hardships. I guess I’m a softie.

I rated this a 3/5 because the writing was great and the characters were constructed well. I think that many other people will enjoy this read, but it simply wasn’t for me.

L

I received a copy of And I Darken from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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