BOOK REVIEW : And I Darken
By Kiersten White
August 28 2016 BY SULPHIA IQBAL
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.
The main characters in this book are surprisingly disparate from each other. They are each unique in their own way and I don’t really favor one character over the other. I love them all. Well, sort of.
Lada is one of those characters you don’t know whether you want to hug because you feel sorry for them in some way, or smack for being so annoyingly obdurate. She might seem like a constantly belligerent character, but when reading more and more of the book, you might come and find yourself actually feeling sorry for her. It’s hard to see why you would at first, I’ll admit, but it is very obvious from start that Lada is striving for her father’s approval. She’s fierce, cold, ruthless, like her father, and even men fear her. As she grows, she becomes even more calculating, decisive, and resilient. She realizes the role women have in the world and she completely refuses to follow it. At least to a great extent at first. She wants to show that as a women, she could do anything a man does, if not greater. I can connect with how she feels. Throughout the book, I am captivated by the curiosity of finding out what she does to find her place in the world as a women without going to an extreme. How you can be fierce and significant without crossing the line. I believe many girls around the world can relate.
And then there’s her younger brother. Radu. The complete opposite of his sister, father, and elder brother and seems to seek his father’s love and approval as well. Except he doesn’t ever receive it. Compared to his family, he’s weak, reticent and pathetic. Less hostile. He’s sympathetic towards people he is told to not care for and he’s desperate for someone to make him feel less lonely. Someone to protect him from his elder brother’s bullying. Someone to care for him. His mom left when he was very young and all he had was his maid. Even Lada found him to be weak and rarely showed any affection. But when they were abandoned by their father, the tw0 became closer than they ever have before. After he met Mehmed, he finally got what he has longed for his whole life : a friend.
Then there’s Mehmed. Mehmed. Mehmed. Mehmed. He is such an important character because he gave Radu a friend and Lada a reason to feel a tinsy bit nicer ( And by a tinsy bit I mean tinsy bit ).
The plot. It was eh. I mean, most of it was just Lada and Radu getting used to the Ottoman Empire over the course of about , I don’t know, two years?
Lada and Radu , though Lada HATES to admit this in any form, consider their place in the Ottoman Empire their home, even though they are technically their prisoners and the Ottomans were their kingdom’s enemy. And despite that, Lada decided to help the Ottomans defeat their enemies out of the fact that they were friends. I liked how she helped Mehmed with decisiving planning that turned out to be helpful in the long turn. I liked how she, a once enemy, acted like his advisor. One thing I didn't really like was how the book was focused a bit more on Mehmed, Radu, and Lada rather than what was going on in their world. It makes sense why it was like that because it’s just the first book and I think the next book will have a lot more of what I was expecting.
The beginning, the introduction of Lada and her brother, was very interesting. It gave me a really good idea of Lada’s character and why she acted the way she did.
The ending on the other hand….
The ending left me speechless. It left the story unfinished and I need the next book, even if the book wasn’t super exciting throughout.
When I recommended this book to my friend, they emailed me back telling me how they’d cried for reasons they were unclear of. The writing style was very descriptive and it told the story really well. It gave the story a compelling dark atmosphere that really fit.
What I loved the most about this story was the fact that it was a twist to history. Radu and Mehmed were real people during the 1400’s. Instead of the story being about Vlad the Impaler, a brutal prince, it’s about Lada the Impaler, the brutal princesses.
“On our wedding night," she [ Lada ] 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.”
“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you [ Lada ] sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”
IN THE END
So all in all, it was a good read. It took about 2 days and you’ll definitely want more of it after finishing.
Check it out at the library and goodreads :