My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, War-setting, Family, LGBT, Romance
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.
‘‘The price of living seems to always be death.’’
‘‘And that is why you become a dealer of death. You feed death as many people as you can to keep it full and content so its eye stays off you.’’
And I Darken is not a bedtime story. Its complexity makes it hard to get into but also hard to get out of.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime as I was reading it, I suddenly stopped thinking of it as just another historical fiction/fantasy story and started seeing it in a new light.
Seeing it as a story of survival.
Lada and Radu were supposed to die. They were forsaken by their own father, to assure the latter’s continuous reign. They were betrayed and now they have only each other to rely on.
Lada is the stronger of the two but Radu is the charming one. As different as they may be, together, they are unstoppable.
And I Darken steers clear of sugar-coating, but has a knack of scheming and deceiving. Many revelations take time to come, and perhaps that is why it is only after they started sprouting out that I became fully invested in it.
Though I couldn’t help but want to know more and be interested in Lada and Radu’s fates.
And I deeply felt for Radu when he started realizing the truth about himself.
I must admit that the addition of a gay character was completely unexpected but I welcomed him and the theme that came with him with open arms.
Do not expect for And I Darken to entertain you. It was not written to make anyone laugh or arise derision. It’s as serious as they get. I swear Lada and Radu will behold their first gray hair at the age of twenty.
Everything they go through… Everything they experience… All the hopes that fall flat… All the dreams that are shattered… It all contributes to their (outstanding) character development.
Their precarious future is the most interesting part. No one knows what will happen next (the book is full of surprises) and there is no indication of assured safety. They are on a tightrope—they always were.
But one thing’s for sure. Mehmed must die. (Though this is simply a request, not a spoiler or anything I foresee.) Please kill him, Kiersten White. I hate his guts. Thank you.
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