Title: And I Darken
Author: Keirsten White
Series: (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Pub. Date: June 28th, 2016
Genres: YA, Retelling, Historical Fiction
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.
“First, they needed to destroy the web. Then the spider would be powerless.” -64%
Lada and Radu are siblings, and while Lada lacks beauty she makes up for it in her wild and vicious persona, while Radu gets all the looks but is weak and subjected to bullying from everyone, even Lada. Life is good. Lada worships the ground her father walks on and tries to gain his love, until she realizes what kind of person he really is when he sacrifices them to the Sultan so he could maintain his little bit of power. There, Lada is miserable and Radu thrives (he even switches his religion), and then they meet Mehmed, the son of the Sultan. Things happen, love blossoms, chaos and assassination attempts are assumed, and through it all sacrifices are made.
“What must be sacrificed to secure a future where no one can touch you?” -97%
I have mixed feelings for this book. I loved the vicious, brutal character we found in Lada, and Radu gave us a nice break from her with his sweet, kind self. However, for them to develop, they both went through a stage of constant whining and repeating things we already knew (broken heart, unrequited love etc). Even with their development, there’s still so much room for them to grow, with is great for the the rest of the series, but it frustrated me with how it was handled. Along with that, I loved the world and the time and how well it was done, but the history lessons that were crammed down our throat? I could go without those. Or at least have them toned down a bit.
Just thought you should know: I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. At all.
Lada is violent, cold, and strategic. She cares about no one but herself, and has an odd sense of Radu belonging to her, as she often said “Mine” when someone or something happened to hurt him and she stepped in. She comes off as ruthless, and she is in the beginning. I loved her violent and aggressive nature, she entertained me with her bad manners. However, almost as soon as Mehmed was introduced, she softened. Not much, but she smiled, she grew to tolerate and then seek out his company. She sacrificed things for him, and fell head over heels. This ruthless, cold and calculating character, who can’t even find it in herself to love her brother, somehow softens and gives her heart to the sultan’s son? Sure, it took time and a lot of jealousy, but it happened. I wouldn’t mind so much if I actually liked Mehmed.
Mehmed. He falls in love with Lada pretty quickly. And even so, he still has a Harem he pays a lot of attention to, enough to have knocked up two girls. If he loved Lada as much as he thinks he does, why would he hurt her as such? Oh yeah! Because she wouldn’t put out. You go girl! But ugh. I found him cocky, obnoxious, naive, and oblivious. He would say one thing and then go and do something to contradict that when he thought no one was looking. I didn’t care for him, and I certainly didn’t understand the attraction, the love Radu and Lada have for him.
Radu I liked, but not enough. He started off weak, pathetic, and always in need of rescuing. He hated his father yet loved Lada unconditionally because she was the one to rescue him time and again, even if she bullied him relentlessly with Bogdon. He worshiped Lada like Lada worshiped their father. But Lada realized her Father’s true character before Radu ever saw and got fed up with hers. And he only noticed it because Lada and Radu both love Mehmed, and Radu thought he might get a chance if Lada was gone. He was kind, compassionate, and he was always thinking ten steps ahead for infiltration, and that helped me like him instead of just pity him. But his constant pain and heartbreak began to annoy and bore me, because it was repetitive. I felt bad for him, and I really hoped he would find someone else, someone more worthy, but he didn’t. So instead the story began to drag.
Nicolae I feel was just there to be a supporting character for Lada. He is easy going, a fighter, and he would follow Lada to the ends of the word if she asked. Not because he loves her romantically, but because he sees her as a sister, someone to bond with and connect to. I liked him. I would’ve liked to see more of his character though, so I’m hoping that happens in the next book.
Other than an overload of information about this network of evil they must take down and fight against, religion, and history, I quite enjoyed the writing. Yes it dragged in some places (because of the info-dumps and repetitiveness), and this book honestly felt too long (like it could’ve been over long before it actually was), but it was still an enjoyable read. The author has brilliantly woven this world and time in history that I could visualize (it took a while for me to see it, but I got it eventually), and I loved the experience!
It was predictable at times, but others it surprised me. It dragged quite a bit though, and I had been expecting more going in.
And I Darken is a brilliantly woven historical tale full of tragic sacrifices, faith, and brutal murder. When push comes to shove, will you do what needs to be done or try to find away out?