Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Kiersten White’s newest book And I Darken, is beautifully written and epic in scope. It is told from the alternating viewpoints of Lada and her younger brother Radu, children of Prince Dragwyla of the kingdom of Wallachia.

Lada is ferocious (“She had a soul. At least, she was fairly certain she did.”) but, contrary to what some reviewers say, she is not psychopathic nor even particularly vicious. While Lada has no qualms about killing people, her logical mind serves as a sort of moral code, holding her back from wanton murder. As she tells Radu, “Why do anything without purpose?”

Considering that the character of Lada is based on Vlad the Impaler (AKA Count Dracula), known for having impaled over 50,000 Turkish soldiers, I predict Lada’s personality will “darken” significantly through the course of this series.

Vlad the Impaler

Radu is an interesting contrast to his older sister Lada. While Lada is warrior-like, sharp-toothed, perpetually disheveled, and could care less about manners and good graces, Radu is watchful, cerebral, and physically beautiful.He is sweet but not as compelling a character as his sister.

One of the biggest misconceptions about And I Darken is that it is a fantasy. It  is not. There are no supernatural elements or magic of any kind. It is historical fiction, set in the 1400s, with treaties and border invasions, and people who could commonly speak multiple languages–an interesting setting for a story.

Through chapter eight, And I Darken is a five-star read across the board. It’s very powerful when Lada, after losing her mother, begins to think of her kingdom Wallachia as her true mother. She is committed to her kingdom and will defend it at all costs.

Then the trajectory of the story changes.

Lada and Radu wind up in Edirne, the capital of the Ottoman Turkish empire, and Lada’s devotion to her homeland takes a backseat to the interests of the sultan’s youngest son Mehmed. In essence, Mehmed becomes the center of this story’s universe. Through Act Two, practically everything Lada and Radu do revolves in some way around Mehmed. Political maneuverings also become a big part of the story. Lada continues to train as a warrior, but the fighting spirit she exhibits earlier in the story diminishes.

In addition to Lada(!) and Radu, there are many memorable characters in the story. Some of my favorites were the nanny who raised Lada and Radu, the slave soldiers (called Janissaries), as well as women in the  harem who must use wits, feminine wiles, and whatever other resources at their disposal to survive their oppressive situation.

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–Eve Messenger

 

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23 comments

      1. Thanks! Haha I usually do that immediately after I add someone, but I had to leave right after to go to my brother’s concert thing. 🙂 I was actually just about to go do that!
        Alice in Zombieland?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review, Eve. This sounds like a series that will take on epic proportions! I feel Radu is a much needed counterpoint to his sister Lada (am I the only one reminded of the car!). I will definitely have a closer look at his book…I like the odd bit of historical fiction!

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  2. Ahh I’m super glad to see that you like this book! I’ve been excited about it since I heard that Lada was just brutal – it’s been a while since we have a protagonist that’s, well, kind of evil.

    Also I’m glad you mentioned that it’s not a fantasy! I totally thought it was and would’ve gone into the book expecting magic if I didn’t read your review, so thanks for that. 🙂

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    1. And I Darken has a lot of things going for it. It’s beautifully written, set in a interesting time in human history and, of course, fierce Lada is so interesting to read about. I hope you like it!

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