Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication date: June 28, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Summary from 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.
Lada is described as a princess, but is so far from the literary and historical idea that this book caught me off guard. She’s also based of off Vlad the Impaler, who the author describes as this: “Vlad the Impaler was a national hero, a freedom fighter, a brilliant military mind. Or he was a deeply disturbed psycho-path, a vicious despot who murdered tens of thousands and literally sustained himself on their flesh.”
The complexity of these characters and the environment that is forced on them is what drew me into this book. I’m not even sure I liked it, and I didn’t love the characters. But I couldn’t seem to look away from how all of them are forced in to impossible situations, and must learn how to survive.
While there’s some plot and romance, this book is mostly character development. If you like fast action and charismatic heroes, you probably won’t make it through this one.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Like all historical fiction, I love that this book takes its readers to a real place—the Ottoman Empire. Stories like these always leave me more curious about that time and the people who made real history. And I Darken explores so many themes—the naiveté of childhood ideals, goals, and relationships; patriotism; war; leadership; sexuality; gender roles; slavery; religion (Islam major religion). It’s a brutal story, but one I think could be educational.
Age recommendation: 14
Language – mild
Drugs & Alcohol – mild
Sex – sex is often referred to, but few if any graphic details; the emperor has a harem and often speaks of his duty towards it
Violence – There’s moderate violence. One character is almost raped; lots of physical and sword fighting; several violent execution scenes
My Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.