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.
Kiersten White’s novel “And I Darken” is a solid young adult novel. The writing style, flow and character development are done in a rhythm very typical of the YA style – and I mean that in a good way. I’m not sure how else to put it other than it is very representative of the genre. Young, strong female lead struggles when her world is turned upside down. Personally, I found her very easy to relate to having been a bit of a tomboy myself when growing up, also having a strong will of my own.
Now, there were two aspects of the book that do, at least in my mind, set it apart.
One…and I don’t want to say any spoilers or say something the wrong way, so please don’t judge my words too harshly. The sexual orientation of one of the characters is first presented from a naïve character’s perceptive and then they are have to deal with the daily challenges that come with being different then their cultural norm. It felt refreshing to have this struggle not be the entire theme but still represented. I feel like now a day there are many people who go though something similar. Having it as apart of the character development without defining the narrative is a fresh inclusion in touch with the current reader base.
And two, it’s a YA historical fiction!! Ok, I have read quite a bit of YA and quite a bit of historical fiction but I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever read a YA historical fiction. Kiersten White does take quite a bit creative license when telling the story but, never the less, it was really fun to read about the character’s drama taking place in an actual place and time in the past. After reading this book I was so curious to know if there are more books like this (although I knew that there must be) that I actually posted my very first ever Reddit comment asking for recommendation in this ‘new to me’ genre. The Reddit community is wonderful! Who knew?!!! I asked the question in the subreddit YAlit and now I have enough recommendations to keep me busy for the rest of the year. The people there are truly wonderful and such a wealth of information! If you’re looking for suggestion’s check out the thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/YAlit/comments/8317kn/ya_historical_fiction_books_are_there_any_out/
This book was not only a fun read but has exposed me to a new genre AND a whole new community. Amazing!