One of the best books of 2016. And the Wallachian setting (which is Romania today, which is where I’m from) didn’t influence my rating, even though it played a big, big part in gripping me into the story. 🙈
Fantasy/ Young Adult/ Historical Fiction/ Romance
- New York Times Bestseller
- “A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters. Absolutely riveting.” — Alexandra Bracken #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger
“An intense, risky, passionate novel that dragged me through love and danger with the force of its heroine’s heart and the power of its hero’s faith.”— Tessa Gratton,
“A brilliantly envisioned alternate history that is meticulously detailed but compulsively readable, this is a story I could not put down. I demand the sequel like Lada demands Wallachia!”— Beth Revis,
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.
My rating: 5/5
First things first. This book is dark. Really dark. Not the wannabe type of dark that every YA book aspires to, but a motivated one, from the characters to the challenges they go through and to what life means for them (and it’s quite a life).
The background is particularly unique, set in the Ottoman Empire and in Wallachia, in a world filled with complicated politics and conflicts. The descriptions are detailed enough to give life to the story without being boring (except for the political ones…). One aspect I enjoyed was the way that the cultures of the countries were exploited, specifically the religion one, which is a pretty big part for some of the characters: you get to understand how much it means for them and don’t feel like you’re being indoctrinated.
Our main character, Lada, is fierceful and savage. She’s mean and unwilling to put up with everyone else’s nonsense, and also not the princessy kind of beautiful we are accustomed to. Moreover, she puts herself first. I liked that she was bossy, although there were a few moments when her attitude was unjustified. Her development is acknowledgeable as in the beginning she’s this boyish girl that is not keen on women only to discover that being a woman is more than bowing to men. I feel like she indeed grew up, discovering femininity and that it is not necessarily linked to dresses and fanciness. Still, I would have liked to see her DO more and put her rage where it belongs. I admit that she lost her way at some point, but I don’t think it will be the case for the next volume.
Her brother, Radu, is the opposite of her. He’s beautiful, lovely, charming, intelligent and the list can go on and on. Certainly more likeable for other character and for the reader. The relationship between them, back and forth, hot and cold, is complicated, consisting of jealousy and enough miscommunication to make you bang your head against a wall. However, they protect each other no matter what and I am living for it. He’s not so much in the spotlight, which bothered me because I really really want him to be happy, if not independent from Lada.
The romantic interest, Mehmed, who’s their best friend, is… nothing to talk about, I’d say? Ultimately he was annoying and I didn’t feel any chemistry between him and any of the characters and I hope this is the way it’s meant to be. Otherwise… not nice AT ALL.
There’s not a lot of action, in the end. To me, it’s more like an introduction to something bigger, but it is worth it. The world building, although interesting, takes some pages, just like the infancy of the characters, which is to be understood considering their issues with the world and with themselves- and yet. In terms of brutality and violence- which And I Darken claims to have plenty of, there’s room for more graphicness ’cause there are passages where you feel like you’re told things, rather than showed. Nevertheless, the action is unpredictable and it keeps you in some sort of suspense.
All in all, this book is great. Sure, it is ready for improvement, but the story is simply fascinating and the characters make up for its missing pieces. Recommend it to everyone craving for something fresh and astounding!
“The sooner you stop fighting, the easier your life will be. That is what your purpose is.”
Lana stood so abruptly she nearly fell backward. “No.”