Review Detail

And I Darken Featured
Young Adult Fiction 1548
An feminist twist on Vlad the Impaler
(Updated: September 14, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
The first book in a new trilogy by author Kiersten White has been on my “waiting-to-be-released” list for some months, and I would stare at this list for minutes at a time, wishing that time will go faster so I could finally read it. I was so ecstatic when I finally got my hands on it and I devoured it in two days.

And I Darken was everything I wanted in a book and more. It was based on rich history, with a strong, feminist protagonist, an incredible plot and written absolutely beautifully.

(warning: spoilers below)

Ladislav Dragwlya is the savage and wild daughter of Vlad Dracul, the prince of Wallachia. She is fierce, strong and more capable than any man, and ready to prove it. She and her younger brother, Radu, spend their days in her beloved Wallachia, vying for their father’s attention. Overnight, Lada and Radu are wrenched from their homeland and sent to be raised in the heart of the Ottoman Empire in the sultan’s court, to be held hostage for their father’s mistakes. Ruthless and brutal Lada detests her new prison and keepers and only desires to return home, but gentle Radu blossoms and finds himself drawing closer and closer to the call of Islam. The children become pawns in a political game and must learn to manipulate and charm if they have any hope of surviving. When they meet Mehmed, the illegitimate son of the sultan, their lives are changed forever. Lada is torn between her growing feelings for Mehmed and her desire to return home and claim her birthright. Radu gains position and power in the sultan’s court while trying to understand the different love he feels for Mehmed, stronger than that of a friend. Meanwhile, a dangerous threat hovers above the three and threatens to take everything they hold dear.

Lada was an incredible character – I was so impressed by White’s ability to write an engaging, feminist woman who doesn’t allow men to make decisions for her or treat her like they treat any other woman of this era. Despite her savagery and, at times, cruelness, I felt like I could really connect with her, too. She has so much confidence but still suffers from the same anxiety and awkwardness any child at her age does, female or male. At the beginning of the novel, she is a child and the reader observes as she grows into a young woman who becomes even more determined to reclaim her destiny and birthright. Lada is actually based on a real historical figure, Vlad the Impaler, the vaivode (military prince) of Wallachia (modern-day Romania). The myth surrounding this real-life figure has changed so much over time: today, we are more familiar with the story of Vlad as Dracula, the vampiric ruler of Transylvania. While the real-life Vlad was certainly savage enough to inspire such stories, he was no vampire, but was just as scary. I am so excited for the next two books where White can explore Vlad’s savagery in the form of Lada. A real historical event I am dying to read is when Vlad impaled 20,000 of his own people on spikes and the invading Muslim army saw this, turned around, and went back home. I wonder if White’s version of Vlad will live up to the same name: Impaler.

Radu, too, was a wonderful character. The younger brother of Lada, he is constantly overlooked due to his gentle and sweet nature, but he learns to use his good looks and innocent features to get what he wants. Mehmed was a tricky character – there were times I liked him, and other times I thought him selfish and annoying. He falls in love with Lada, who does not know if she returns his feelings (as much as he does), while Radu falls in love with Mehmed. It’s a sad love triangle, but an interesting one I look forward to watching develop over the next two books. In history, Radu actually becomes one of Mehmed’s male concubines, so I wonder if White will evolve Radu and Mehmed’s relationship to match their real-life counterparts. If so, this will have dire ramifications for Lada, if her brother and the man she thinks she loves, sleep together.

The plot was fascinating. Beginning in childhood and progressing through their teenage years, we watch Lada and Radu grow up and come into themselves. The first book centers on Mehmed’s rise to become sultan, with Radu and Lada on the outskirts. The novel ended with a clear picture of Lada and Radu’s next journey. The first book sets up much of the rich history of the story, while the second book will almost certainly lead to action and war. I cannot wait to read the second book! Don’t know how I will survive an entire year of waiting.
Good Points
Check out my blog and other reviews here: www.thebookcorps.wordpress.com
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Look Both Ways
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This story was going to begin like all the best...
Ashes (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #3)
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
"The truth was, I wasn’t on anyone’s side except Claire’s....
Fire (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #2)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
After being killed by demons, former angel Adam wakes up...
Spark (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #1)
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
"It came out of nowhere. A sweep of emotions. Love,...
The Twin
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were...
Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
It's 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight...
The Life Below
 
4.0
 
4.0 (1)
It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a...
Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets (Mr Penguin #2)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Mr. Penguin―Adventurer (And Penguin!) When Mr. Penguin...
Famous by Default
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Jax Buried, By my family's fame. Dying to escape...
Sword and Pen (Great Library Book, #5)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
With the future of the Great Library in doubt,...
Butterfly Yellow
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and...
Jonny Lambert's Construction Site
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A beautifully illustrated book for babies featuring lots of noisy...
Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Animals
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Take your toddler on a rain forest adventure and find...
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s...
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke...
Gray (The Wings Trilogy, #3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The long anticipated finale to the Wings Trilogy. ...

Latest Member Reviews

The Life Below
 
4.0
"After our mindbending landing on the moon back in 1969, we’ve faltered in our quest to explore space. Mars seems..."
The Twin
 
3.7
"Ivy and her twin sister Iris parents divorced when they were ten. Ivy got to live with their father and..."
Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
"Sarah Goldstein, alias Ursulla Haller, is living right under Nazi rule in 1940 Germany. She's the Shirley Temple of the..."
The Life Below
 
4.0
"Naomi can't help but wonder if there was an ulterior motive behind the decision to kick Leo out of the..."
The Stars We Steal
 
3.7
"Jane Austen in space….yes please! The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a futuristic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion...."
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
 
4.0
" The story: After living in foster care since the death of her mother, Edie finally..."
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Kira Fujikawa loves helping at her family shrine. She also has a paranormal ability. She sees the not only..."
The Shadows Between Us
 
5.0
"THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US is the highly devourable YA fantasy I have been searching for! This is an enthralling story..."
 
3.3
"The Betrothed is a brand new YA-novel set in the 15th century by Kiera Cass, whom we all know from..."
Remember Me
 
4.0
"‘First rule of storytelling,’ he says, a glint in his eyes.’ Everything is possible.’ Nell is..."
Lobizona
 
5.0
"Sixteen-year-old Manuela, 'Manu' is in hiding from her father's Argentinian crime family. She also runs the risk of being deported..."
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
 
4.7
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A book that should be on every teen's shelf. ..."
Serious Moonlight
 
5.0
"Birdie and Daniel has the most awkward first encounter. So when Birdie started her job in a historic hotel, she..."
Long Way Down
 
5.0
"I feel like I've been asleep for the last 31 years and I just woke up. I am woke. ..."
The Opposite of Always
 
5.0
"Opposite of Always is a heartfelt and stunning debut; that is worthy of all praise. I am in love..."
Tyler Johnson Was Here
 
5.0
"Tyler Johnson Was Here--did not come to be politically correct, or racially ambiguous. Tyler Johnson came to tell an ugly..."
We Are Not Free
 
5.0
"Fourteen friends who grew up together in Japantown, San Francisco find themselves and their families sent off to incarceration camps..."
The Way You Make Me Feel
 
3.7
"Clara Shin is the class clown and definitely qualifies as a troll too. (Big difference between the two, I'm not..."
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
"Recently recognized as a National Book Award finalist and a Stonewall Honor book, Pet is also Akwaeke Emezi’s YA debut..."
Brown Girl Ghosted
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Violet Choudhury has a huge secret. During the day she's part of her Midwestern town's cheer squad and at..."