Finally! I’ve been wanting to read one of Kiersten White’s novels, and I’m glad I started with her most recent book, And I Darken, which is being released today.
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 the moment I read the synopsis, I knew this was the book for me. Plus, that title. I am totally in love with it. I was fortunate enough to read this book early because it was included in a giveaway from the Book Addict’s Guide (Thanks Brittany!). There is just something about reading an ARC that fills me with unending glee.
From the very first page, I realized that there is no “glee” in this book unless it’s the savage, evil glee of a recent blood letting. In other words, Lada is a bad ass, with an emphasis on bad. She’s the kind of twisted character that you can’t help but root for, but are also very, very afraid of. If I ever met Lada on the street, I’d turn and run.
This story was dark and beautiful and gut-wrenching. I can’t tell you how many times I had to put the book down in order to untie the knot coiling in my stomach. Lada and her brother had such a complicated sibling rivalry. It was heart-breaking and endearing at the same time. Throw in their competition over the heir of the enemy empire and its just a recipe for disaster. I can’t even describe the angst and gut-punching revelations. It can only be experienced.
I loved that Lada fought so fiercely for every bit of her independence, and even though I wanted her to fall to her feminine “feelings,” I can’t help but applaud her strength. The cast of characters reminded me of the conniving, deceit, manipulation and cunning from Game of Thrones.
I don’t know how to rate this book because I thought it was really good, but it was a painful read. I’m pretty sure I’ll have permanent scars from the angst in this novel. It was entertaining. It was original. It was a relentless onslaught of feels.
Lada has killed my ability to review this book in the only way she knows how — viciously and without mercy.