Series: The Conqueror's Saga #1
Published by Penguin on June 28th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historial
Add to Goodreads
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.
I received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
It took me far, far too long to become emotionally invested in this book (the thing is basically a brick), but I am now in a glass case of emotion rooting for my girl, Lada Dracul. I’ll be honest and say that I hated the first half of this book. It was drier than the Sahara Desert, but once it hit the 50% mark, the pace seemed to pick up and things finally got interesting. Thank god.
And I Darken is a gender-swapping, historical retelling of the Prince of Wallachia, and I’m not a historian in any sense of the word but from what I’ve heard it seems pretty accurate (with its own embellishments for plot purposes of course).
If anyone walks into this thinking it’s a fantasy. Stop right there! It’s not. It’s politics from beginning to end. With plenty of stabbing, murder and volatile characters (aka my three favourite things in a book). At times, it felt too politically heavy. You spent more time trying to remember who was who and why so and so hated someone else, that you sometimes get lost along the way and don’t have a map to get back home. So to summarise: Everyone wants power. Your enemies are anyone and everyone. Trust no one.
Barring all of that, Lada Dracul is what really makes this book great. Vicious, headstrong and brilliantly complex, she does whatever the hell she wants and has no qualms about stabbing anyone that gets in her way. Basically, I loved her. The other main characters were pretty great too (you will def be invested in their outcomes by the end) but Lada was my fav. #GirlPower
All in all, don’t let the slow burn of White’s storytelling turn you away (or the fact that it’s basically 500 pages long). Keep reading! It’s a marathon, not a sprint.