Saturday, June 25, 2016

ARC Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken
Series: Conquerors Saga #1
Written by: Kiersten White
Published: June 28, 2016 by Delacorte Press (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)


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. 

I was so excited to read this book when I first heard about it. A story about a female Vlad the Impaler at the Ottoman court. That sounds right up my alley. And it was, it definitely was. I really enjoyed this dark historical fiction full of political intrigue and subtle coming of age vibes.

As far as the plot goes, it may seem a little disjointed. The first half is about the childhood of Lada (the female Vlad) and her brother Radu. First we see them in their native Wallachia with their father the prince, then we see them in the Ottoman Empire as a prisoner of the sultan. This part was a little slow for me. It was kind of a fish out of water story but I kept waiting for it to start picking up. But pick up it did. It took me about a week to read the first half of the book and two days to read the second half. Once the political intrigue and action started kicking in, I couldn't put it down. I really loved seeing Lada and even Radu plotting and planning how to outsmart those who were against Sultan Mehmed who they supported. There were even some surprises along the way in terms of friends and enemies. In the end it did build to a great conclusion but it had a slow start and the pacing was kind of problematic.

But what I did really like was the characterizations. Kiersten White did a great job of developing our main characters and surrounding them with interesting and complex characters. Lada is described as being a vicious princess. What I liked about her is that despite the fact that she wants to be like the men, she can't eschew feminine things and that being a woman could actual be a benefit. Radu has his own struggle being who he is and it was nice seeing these two come into their own throughout the book. The best part though is that neither of them are perfect. They make mistakes, they do the wrong thing, they lash out, and they keep secrets. They are realistic and hard to like sometimes but that's what makes them great characters.

I also really enjoyed the historical fiction aspect. Vlad the Impaler is such a fascinating figure in Medieval and Sultan Mehmed is as well. They are two people that you don't often read about and it was great learning more about them throughout this book. But it was also really great learning about the life and culture during the time period. You can tell that the author did her research and it helped immerse you into the world but it wasn't overwhelming. I've heard the Game of Thrones comparison and I think what it made me realize is that GoT is based on real history and maybe this place and period was one of those influences. But I do have to say that I was hoping for a little bit more brutality from Lada, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of Vlad the Impaler brutality so hopefully future books have a little more.

On the whole, I thought this was a great historical fiction read. It's a bit slow in the beginning but it introduces you to characters that have great development and sets the stage for great political intrigue.

I give And I Darken by Kiersten White 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. What I have seen from reviews is that this is a really hit or miss kind of book. If you are into historical fiction and books with a slower plot that builds to a thrilling conclusion then check this out. I've seen the Game of Thrones comparison and I definitely get it. There's lots of political intrigue and complex female characters.

Have you read And I Darken? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Hmmm ... political intrigue isn't always my favorite in books, but I HAVE liked it occasionally. So, I'll have to think about this one...

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. I agree that the first half with the childhoods was slow, but I really loved how this one was more about character development that fast plot development and things happening fast. I adore historical fiction so I think that was a big part of why I loved this one!

  3. I reviewed this today too, but I LOVED it! I did get a little annoyed with the first half and wanted it to speed up, but I did end up enjoying that too once I got through it, if that makes sense. I'm glad you still enjoyed this!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds