And I Darken (the conquerors saga #1) by Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: June 28th 2016
Genre: YA, Historical fiction
My Rating: 5 stars
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.
This book is the best historical fictions I have read in a while. It had great characters and amazing world building. Now if you like fast-paced books this might not be for you because this book was slow-paced and spent a lot of time on building the world and explaining the characters. I still think you should read it though because it was amazing and I feel like the next book in the series will have a lot more action.
This book is a gender flipped historical fiction about Vlad the impaler, who in this novel is known as Lada. The story follows Lada and her brother Radu as they grow up first in their homeland of Wallachia then in the ottoman courts where they are being kept to ensure Wallachia stays in line. We get to see them at different ages, from children to young adults, which I really enjoyed because it gave me such a deep understanding of who they are and the choices they make. Lada who has always been fierce and deeply loves her country becomes a warrior that is willing to do whatever it takes to get home, even if it means being cruel and vicious. Radu who has always been gentle and kind on the other hand never wants to go home, because he feels like he has finally found a place where he is safe and loved. There is also Mehmed the ottoman prince who both of them care about, that at first brings them closer together but later drives them apart.
What I liked
Lada. Lada was definitely my favourite character in this book. She was a princess fighting to have the same opportunities as men in a time where women were supposed to be pretty, delicate flowers. I also really enjoyed that she was so imperfect; she was often cruel and willing to do anything to get back to Wallachia
The character development and world building. I love how we get to follow Lada and Radu over such a long period and really learn about them and their empire. I mean if the book had started whit them living in the Ottoman Empire and you never got to see Wallachia or their father I probably wouldn’t like Lada as much as I did or understand her choices as well.
The relationship between Lada and Radu. These two have a complicated relationship. They really care about each other but because they are so different, they don’t understand each other and at times, they even despise the other person. they also want different things and sure normally this may not be a big deal but when one of you is hell bent on getting home and views the country you live in as enemy territory while the other one feels like he is finally home and never wants to go back to your homeland it becomes a problem. I think it will be very interesting to see how their relationship evolves in the second book and I really can’t wait.
Side characters. The side character in this book were really well fleshed out and I loved that. Even the characters I disliked I still appreciated because they were so real. Every single character in this story was complex, even the characters that we only see for a short amount of time somehow managed to be fleshed out so well that you got a real sense of who they were. I also appreciate how every single character in this story was neither good nor bad, but a bit of both. Sure, there were bad people and good people but the good ones were capable of evil and the bad ones capable of good.
What I disliked.
Radu. I really did not like Radu, mostly because I really didn’t get him. Sure, I understood his thought process and everything but I just did not agree with him. I know this might be a bad thing to say but honestly, I agree whit Lada’s opinion that he is a crybaby. I still enjoyed reading his chapter though and I like his storyline, just not him as a person.
Mehmed. Mehmed is the ottoman prince that both siblings love and I honestly just don’t get it. I feel like he really wasn’t really that special and some of the things he did made me go ugh. Sure, he was nice and kind and cared about Lada and Radu but I just did not like him that much.
In short this was an amazing historical fiction full of character development and world building that is a fantastic start to what will most likely be a beautiful and heart breaking series. I personally think everyone that like historical fiction or even fantasy (there is no fantasy in this book btw) should read this book but if you really hate slow books, you might not enjoy it.