Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror's Saga #1
Genre: YA alternate historical fiction/fantasy
Published: June 28th, 2016
Source: ARC received at bookstore where I work from publisher
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 really enjoyed this story! While it was a change in the actual history, the bits of real history that were woven in were enough that I really became very intrigued about the time period. I guess I hadn't realized quite how far back in the history of Vlad that the author was going to go. And I was really thrilled to learn it all.
I loved the characters. While at first Lada was kind of rude and you could definitely say unlikable, I really understood her irritation and reasons for behaving the way she did. And, I really liked her by the end. The love story for her was so good, heartbreaking, but good. And then to learn about what her brother really wanted in life, and how he grew up and began to see the way she had treated him. All the love and family and friendship in this book made for emotions and tension, and a great story. I loved the battles, and learning about the women's lives in the harems. The religion itself was also a big part of the story that I hadn't actually ever thought about with what I knew about the true history of Vlad the Impaler. But I also loved Mehmed, and while I understood Lada's reasons for keeping herself separate as much as possible, I wanted them to be together more than anything.
When I went online to update my progress as I read on Goodreads, I realized it was a series, and the way this ended, and how it didn't get to the part of Vlad's life that I really knew about, I am so glad to know that. A great read, and two more on the way to finish up the story. The author was so detailed with both the history and the life and characters, that I am sure to be more involved after each new book.