And I Darken by Kiersten White
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.
I must say that I was expecting it to be more fantasy – it certainly didn’t feel much like it, although it’s said that it is? It’s much heavier, it has a lot of history in it – in which a lot is basically fiction – and a lot of politics. It’s brutal, it’s cruel, it’s incredible! This book is so well written and interesting! It’s kinda heavy to read tho, extremely tense and overwhelming! But… I freaking love it. It completely blew my mind!
This book has so much going on… so many wars, so many people wanting to murder that and that, while the others are thinking of murdering the others. Basically, everyone kills everyone, wants to kill everyone or thinks of killing everyone. Who is at war with who, who betrayed who, … You get the point, there’s a lot of history going on, where not everything is accurate but delivers an amazing world filled with nastiness, blood and a lot of badass people!
One of the best characters in this book is Lada. The other is Radu. They are brother and sister and they couldn’t have been more different. Yet, I love them equally for very different reasons. While Lada is vengeful, nasty and cruel (oh so cruel! It’s glorious.), Radu is sweet, “weak” and silent. But what one has in strongness, the other has in cleverness. They complement each other and they don’t even realize it. Their relationship is amazing and I loved to see how they grew so different from the beginning to the end of the book. This is the best character development I’ve read so far this year and I am living for it!
Lada is also dealing with what means to be a girl in this world, and she disdains it. She doesn’t know how to feel about herself, and slowly she starts learning that not every power comes from guns and knives. Sometimes people have to make their own power and make choices. I love that she decides her own future, she doesn’t let anyone tell what she should or shouldn’t do. And in her own way, she still loves and protects others, even if she is a bit nuts and her ways are totally creepy.
Radu has also a lot to deal with. He was always the forgotten one, he has all the beauty Lada craves and none of the power she has. He never wanted the life he had but contrary to Lada he learned to accept it and make the best of it. He grows a lot in this book and it’s impossible not to love him! He is just precious. He is delicate in a world that is ruthless, but it works, and he has his own ways around, that made my heart swell with pride!
There’s a lot of other characters that I really liked to read about, some are good, some are bad, and a lot of them you don’t even know what to think, and even if you do you will probably be wrong. A character I couldn’t fully make up my mind about was Mehmed. But they are all so awful in one way or another, and yet, this book has the most precious characters ever.
Even in terms of romance, this book has everything. It even has LGBT! There’s kind of a love triangle going on but not totally? It’s difficult to explain without giving in too much. But I loved how it was portrayed. It’s so unfair, so messed up, so freaking amazing and I’m excited to see how it will develop.
Another thing that is incredible about this book is the way religion is approached. Religion is a tricky subject in YA novels because it easily only delivers one side, but in this book, we see all of them. People that believe in different Gods and people that don’t believe at all, in a way that doesn’t offend. In this book, we have Christianism and Islamism in a way I’ve never seen before.
And to top it off, the writing is incredible. It’s well structured, it has a lot of detail and shows the world perfectly. It has the right emotions, letting the reader feel what he wants, there’s a lot of sides to choose from and it has a big moral delivered in a subtle yet effective way. Fight for what you want. Being a woman has its own benefits and they can be entitled to as much greatness as men. And if someone tells you your place in life, tell them you are the one choosing it.
Also, the end was so freaking surprising! There was not even 15% missing and I was open mouthed! I was not expecting that after everything. It’s really difficult to know what to expect with this book and I would 100% recommend it if you like complex worlds, complex and incredible characters and are okay with books with a bit more substance than the general ya fantasy books, because this one has a lot of politics, and I know that might not be everyone’s taste. Also, if you don’t like books that although have a lot of blood and death, this one is not very graphic, it’s just perfect actually!
Quotes worth reading:
“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”
“The last time she was up here, she had been… staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames.”
“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”
“Some victories are merely defeat wearing the wrong clothing”
“They are less than the mud. You do not get angry at the mud for clinging to your shoe. You wipe it off and never look at it again.”
“I think of you like a sister,” he said. “Like a brilliant, violent, occasionally terrifying sister that I would follow to the ends of earth, in part because I respected her so much and in part because I feared what she would do to me of I refused. “
She nodded. “I would do awful things.”
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!