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I Belong


Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I DarkenTitle: And I Darken

Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Series: The Conquerors Saga (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages

ISBN-10: 0553522310 (Random House)

ISBN-13: 978-0553522310 (Random House)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

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.

Quick & Dirty: No one can escape the weakness of love.

Opening Sentence: Vlad Dracul’s heavy brow descended like a storm when the doctor informed him that his wife had given birth to a girl.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Seeing this book on numerous blogs heightened the expectations I had from it. In all honesty, I wasn’t disappointed. Well, not entirely. I found that the book was longer than I expected but to be fair, there was a LOT going on.

The story is told from the points of view of a brother and sister: Radu and Lada, respectively. Lada is ruthless to everyone because she has seen how love can be used as a weakness and won’t allow herself to be vulnerable. Even towards her younger brother, she shows him the toughest form of love, so much so that even he believes that Lada isn’t capable of caring.

He had made that critical error of loving his children-or Lada, at least-enough that they could be used against him.
Love and life. Things that could be given or taken away in a heartbeat, all in the pursuit of power. She could not avoid her own spark of life. Love, however…
Lada let go of Radu’s hand.

However, the more I read about Lada, the more I sympathised with her. She is merciless and tries to disprove everyone’s beliefs about a girl being weak. By becoming a cruel, strong and unbreakable fighter, she shows the world that she will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. But no matter how hard she tries or how excellent of a fighter she is, she can never ‘be’ one of the men or classed as an equal. All her life she’s worked towards fighting her way back to her homeland, Wallachia. The closer she gets to achieving this, the more conflicted she becomes because the place of her enemies is now beginning to feel like home…

Lada spoke with a quiet, clear voice, and the room hushed in surprise. No one expected a girl to speak. She was probably not allowed to. Radu knew Lada would not care either way. “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.”

Radu, on the other hand is the sweetest, softest boy imaginable, especially given that he hasn’t had much love in his upbringing. Their father sacrificed his children for politics, their mother abandoned them, and in his sister’s eyes he is ‘weak and worthless.’ Perhaps because of this, Radu learns how to be a charmer and surprises everyone in being more useful in a fight without a sword. I adored Radu and my heart broke for his pain.

The relationship between the siblings changed tremendously because at first, Radu is utterly dependent on his sister to look out for him and without her he was lost. As Radu gets older, he begins to make his own decisions, some that Lada wholly disagrees with. Lada overlooks her little brother to such an extent that it’s a shock when she realises that he doesn’t need her any more. In fact, she has no idea who he is. I felt a pang of sympathy for her but then I thought, she brought it upon herself.

“But I won.”
“You-” He jabbed a bruising finger against her arm. “You-” Finally, getting his breathing under control, Radu shook his head and smiled. “You cheated.”
“There is no such thing as cheating. There is only winning or losing. I won.”
“And if we had both died?”
“As long as you died first, I would still have counted it as winning.”

I really enjoyed the introduction of Islam in this book. It’s refreshing to see the religion explained in its true way; a religion of peace and kindness. Radu finds solace in Islam and it helps him when he feels very lost. I loved the detail Kiersten White added, and the factual accuracy of some of the pillars of Islam that were mentioned.

Although I haven’t mentioned much in terms of romance, there are a few tangled love stories but it is probably too spoiler-ish for me to expand on!

Lada reached for Radu’s hand and was surprised when he accepted it. She squeezed, once. “You saved all our lives.”
“You once told me some lives are worth more than others. How many deaths before the scales tip out of our favor?”
She had no answer.

My only concern with And I Darken was that the book was longer than I would have liked. I did get a leeeetle bit bored halfway through but it wasn’t enough for me to put the book down! Another slightly disappointing part was that I expected there to be vampires but clearly that wasn’t the case. Please don’t ask me why; maybe it was the names (Vlad), the reference to Transylvania, or when Lada bites a kid I expected something huge to happen…I think the links to vampires might have all been in my head though…

Notable scene:

“We should tell father about Mircea’s plans.”

Radu went perfectly still, head down. Lada did not have to see his expression to know how he looked. Terrified. “He will be angry. And Mircea will kill me. I am scared to die.”

“Everyone dies sometime. And I will not let Mircea kill you. If anyone is going to kill you, it will be me. Understand?”

Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. “Will you protect me?”

“Until the day I kill you.”

The Conquerors Saga:

1. And I Darken

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FTC Advisory: Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House provided me with a copy of And I Darken. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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