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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Pages: 496
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retellings, Re-imaginings, Romance
Source: ARC from publisher


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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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 book for free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” ? William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

This quote pretty much sums up Lada, the main character in the book. Not only is Lada fierce, but this book is fierce! It is hard to put into words the way this book affected me. I was drawn into this book from the very first paragraph. "Vlad Dracul's heavy brow descended like a storm when the doctor informed him that his wife had given birth to a girl. He had not thought his seed weak enough to produce a girl." Those two sentences just gripped me, and did not let go until I finished the last page. Even then, this book had me on an intense book hangover.

The first thing that you need to know about And I Darken is that it is a fantasy historical retelling. Knowing this and going into the book, it turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting. The thing that shocked me most was that it felt wholly like a historical fiction. This is not a bad thing, just unexpected.

The characters will take hold of you and lodge themselves in your heart. Truly. These characters are so beautifully developed. The beginning of the book follows Lada and her brother, Radu, from birth to children. We see so much of their lives during this time, and the backstory is very important to the rest of the story. There are many other important characters in the book. They each add a unique element to the story. Each has a different personality, and each brings their own conflicts, hopes, and struggles.

I loved the connection to the LGBT community. There is not one, not two, not three, but four gay characters represented in the book. And having them in a historical setting was even better! I loved having so much diversity in the story. Not only that, but there are characters of different cultures that are represented.

The plot of the story is very well put together. It has so many elements and they were all beautifully crafted to make this story what it is. I can't even imagine all the research the author had to do for this book. It has to be mind boggling. The historical accuracy, along with the original arc of this story makes this book really stand out.

This book really is one of my favorite debuts of 2016! It is unlike anything I've read before. I totally recommend picking this up. This is one of those books that you buy all of your friends for their birthdays and preach about from the rooftops. It will take over your life and you will love every moment of it!

KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times.


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