And I Darken
By: Kiersten White
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, 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. – Goodreads, And I Darken
Please excuse me while I scream into a pillow.
This book. Jesus Christ. It was everything I needed.
I just finished it and I’m trying to calm my obsession that is this book and what is to come from it.
Essentially, Kiersten White does a retelling of Vlad the Impaler and reimagines him as a woman and wow, does she get it.
This wasn’t a story about a beautiful girl who was overlooked because she was a woman in the wrong time. It’s about a girl, Ladaslav Dragwlya, who’s probably not the prettiest and definitely not sweet and yet is always overlooked and underestimated even after proving herself stronger, faster and cleverer than the men around her. It’s also about her whiny little brother Radu who has an interesting story arc but felt, in my opinion, like the nuisance he often was to Lada.
The story starts with Ladaslav’s birth and offers glimpses into the pivotal years of Radu and Lada growing up. Lada is the fierce, resilient warrior her father hoped Radu would be while Radu is a gentle, cunning boy who is better with words than he is with fists. Lada and Radu are only a year a part in age and Radu is the heir to their home country Wallachia, but when it falls and their father, the prince of Wallachia, needs aid to take his throne back he sells his children to the Ottoman Empire to regain his throne.
Then all hell breaks loose.
In Lada and Radu’s time living under sultan Murad’s thumb the siblings are regularly educated on the various ways the sultan will torture them if their father so much as reneges on their treaty. They watch men be impaled in the most slow and awful ways imaginable while being taught the religion and history of the Ottoman empire.
Outside of their lessons in torture, Lada and Radu are taught how to cope with growing up in enemy territory. Lada is faced with the question of what she will have to give up if she hopes to hold power over her own life while Radu finds salvation, something the young boy never experience in Wallachia, in practicing Islam.
I was glued to the pages as I read about Lada learning to fight like a man and lead her own battalion, to be a woman who wasn’t just respected but feared. Lada is the female character I have wanted to read for so long because she’s so real it hurts.
She fears being controlled by a man and being seen as nothing more than just currency in a world where alliances are made through marriages. She watched her own mother be discarded after she produced an heir and became a useless pawn to her country. This is a key characteristic to who Lada Dragwlya is. She struggles with her femininity and accepting that she is a woman and not a man. What’s great though is that throughout the book Lada slowly realizes that being a woman is its own yet different power.
It’s like White is showing her readers that there are two sides to every coin. And man, did I love it.
And I Darken may be a historical fiction, but there are pieces of it that I think that, even now, woman and girls can identify with.
Yeah, And I Darken is from both Radu and Lada’s point of view, but Lada steals the story as you itch to understand who she is and where she is meant to fall in a world where she is more than just a political pawn.
So, has anyone else read this? I’m obsessed. I need people to discuss this book with further. Comment below!!!