Wednesday, September 21, 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken (Conqueror's Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White 
Publication Date: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

(this isn't the same cover as the book I read, but this one captures the book better)

Goodreads Blurb:
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.

After reading Ms. White's other books, I was shocked at the writing style, characters, and literally everything in this book; I can't believe the person who wrote the Paranormalcy series wrote this book! I think it's impressive that an author can try out and succeed with different styles and different genres, and even though I wasn't a fan of this book, many thoroughly loved it.

My feelings about the book itself are definitely conflicted. On one hand, the plot and characters were really complex, but on the other, they were a bit too complex that it was difficult to understand what was going on.

What I Liked:
* loosely based on history
* Lada was fierce, driven, and downright scary
* Radu was sweet and serious throughout the novel
* Mehmed was mysterious
* the narration was intense and the plot was driven
* there were a lot of historical allusions to the Ottoman Empire that I understood
* the writing style was good

What I Didn't Like:
* the plot was too much (for me), and the descriptions were a bit tedious
* Lada was a little too negative and bitter sometimes
* literally only three characters who were fully developed
* the book skipped the shift in Mehmed, from little kid to king
* role of women/ the stereotype was appropriate to that time period I suppose but it was still silly that Ladu was trying to be "manly" and stifle her feminism

Overall, it was not a fun, light read. It was engrossing and tough. The world they live in is brutal and at times a bit too fantastical. It is harsh and there weren't many positive, happy feelings in this book; I found it to be very dark and as a generally happy person, I found it discomfiting and wanted something a little more light. However, it was written in a time period that was harsh and gritty, so this book was successful in capturing that mood.

I recommend it to fans of historical fiction as well as those who enjoy reading dark, intense stories about thriving when the odds are stacked against you, about losing what makes you human, and about the darkness in all of us. Also, if anyone is interested in Vlad the Impaler, Lada is supposed to be the female version of him.