Book #1 in The Conquerors Saga series
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publication: June 2016 by Delacorte Press
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley
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.(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars
And I Darken is a loooong story and I'm not just talking about page length. It's basically Lada's entire life - from birth to...late teens, early 20s...ish? There are time jumps - days, weeks, years but all in all it's pretty much Lada's complete story.
Some folks I think were put off by this, cause...yeah...it's really, really dense - at times feeling more like a history book then a fiction story.
I, however, really liked it. Maybe not all the time and maybe, a few times, I felt bogged down by the depth of it all and more then once I couldn't remember where the characters were or had been or why they were there or needed to go somewhere else...
Also, I think I was expecting more horror? The whole premise is, what if Vlad the Impaler was a girl - not the Dracula we all know. And maybe I've got that premise wrong but it's what I went into the book thinking and it wasn't the case. In fact, now, I can't find this description anywhere...so...maybe I made it up? No, I must have read it somewhere.
In any case, I was expecting something much more horror filled and messy. Not overly historic and messy. Vlad is Lada's father and now, knowing that And I Darken isn't a standalone (like I thought it was) I can see how maybe Lada gets more impaler like in subsequent books?
I really don't know.
What I do know is, I dove into And I Darken thinking one thing, enjoyed myself while mucking around in it all and was happy to have read it in the end.
And yes, if there is another book, I will be reading it. The history is dense but so are the characters, in a spectacular way. Lada has a long way to go, her brother Radu is such an interesting person and I can't wait to see where he ends up and Mehmed - yeah, maybe I could have done without him but he adds so much to the story and I'm very curious to see where he stands in book 2.
Summing it up!
YA historical fiction with lots of details, and fabulous characters!