And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press (June 28, 2016)
Print Length: 475 pages
Audiobook Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
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.
While I loved White’s writing style and world building, the constant angst of her characters brought down my appreciation of And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) as a whole.
Haphazardly stumbling on this gem of a premise, a gender bent YA retelling of Vlad the Impaler, I was obsessed with the structure White chose to go with. Most YA novels start the characters off at around sixteen or so, so to start the book from the very beginning of Lada’s life made me appreciate her progression that much more. It also made me less dismissive of Radu, who’s lack of motivation besides getting the boy would have normally annoyed me. You get to see why Lada is so angry, you get to see why Radu is so dependant, it was refreshing that both made choices based on their circumstances and that sometimes what they chose had consequences.
I also rather enjoyed the tone of the novel. It was dark and atmospheric, making the lines blur between what was fact and what could have been fiction. The story also travels depending on what the plot needed, which normally muddles down the plot, but in this case added to the believably of the world.
What I didn’t find so great can be summed up in one word, Mehmed. No matter what scene he came up with, or what plot point he moved forward, I couldn’t get over the fact that I found Mehmed only to be included to add discourse to Lada and Radu’s relationship. Also, when Mehmed was brought up by Lada I found it took away from her antagonist persona, making her angsty just to fit in societies version of a teenager, whereas other choices made by her transcended her age. Overall, if Mehmed was left out, I could guarantee my star rating, as well as other reviewer’s ratings, would have been higher.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
_ _ _
And those are my thoughts on And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White. Have any YA fantasy recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.