Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
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, 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.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken (goodreads).
And Darken was a brutal, brutal book.
Plot: And I Darken takes place from Lada's birth to her early adulthood (17 maybe?) and we go through a lot with Lada and her brother. I found it odd that there wasn't a real climax to this book. And I Darken takes place during violent times but all the war and conflict takes place to the side. It's never a focal point which I thought was a missed opportunity. Lada is such a vicious girl and her talents were never taken to the battlefields for all of us to see. And I Darken is more of a character-driven novel than a plot-driven novel. Like I said, there wasn't a big climax and after closing the book, I couldn't really pinpoint a real reason to tell Lada's story.
Characters: Ladislav was a fascinating and terrible creature, and she isn't for everyone. She was bloodthirsty and has a one-track mind: take back what was hers. I liked how her brother was her complete opposite: delicate, emotional and loving. Honestly, sometimes it was hard for me to stomach Lada and her ways and I started enjoying Radu's chapters more and more. He was such an innocent creature and I felt bad for his situation and how desperately he wanted love.
I was worried that And I Darken would focus too much on Mehmed's appearance and how he affected both Radu and Lada, but their odd threesome was done very well; White focused more on the consequences of Mehmd's appearance rather than their emotional ties. There is a slew of secondary characters through the years and, as expected, I bonded with some characters more than others. I will say that White used each character to move the plot and they were each developed well.
Worldbuilding: White's world is both impressive and overwhelming. And I Darken takes place over more than a decade and there are a lot of historical events during Lada's life. Specific years and conflicts are highlighted, but since I'm not really a history buff, I often did not understand the motivations and the percarious alliances during hte time. I was impressed with White's dedication to her world and how she included the spread of Islam. Historically, And I Darken was done quite well, for the casual reader, it was a bit too in depth for me.
Short N Sweet: And I Darken was a twisted novel that I just couldn't put down!