“And I Darken” by Kiersten White
Publishing House: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Quality of Writing: 3 out of 5 stars.
How Much I Enjoyed It: 1 1/2-2 out of 5 stars.
“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, 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.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.”
Thank you, NetGalley and Delacorte, for the e-galley of “And I Darken.” In no way has this affected my review.
This is going to be a fairly short review, since I have very little to say about “And I Darker,” especially good things. While Kiersten White is a fairly good writer, I personally found everything about this book to be quite difficult to read, from its empty feeling chapters to its cruel and awful characters. Normally I can kind of enjoy a book if it has a mildly intriguing plot, or if the world/historical elements are done well, but all if the characters in “And I Darken” were so unrepentant in their awful behaviors to an extreme that they tainted anything else that I might have liked about this book.
“And I Darken” began with Lada as a young girl, and I have truly never read a book with a heroine who was as awful as her at such a young age, or who was just awful in general. Lada wasn’t just a difficult child, she was a vicious, cruel little hellion from the start of “And I Darken,” and I was quite disturbed by how horrendously awful she was toward everyone, including her younger brother. I was completely shocked by just how wickedly Lada acted in the first half of this book, but I kept reading it despite how much I disliked her because I wanted to see if there was a moral to this story, a drop of redemption for this girl who enjoyed being a terror upon the earth.
Yeah, no, that was a terribly foolish thing to hope for concerning “And I Darken” and its protagonist, because there was no redemption to Lada, no moral to her story, and I was thoroughly disturbed that a heroine, whom we are supposed to be rooting for, was no better than the villains who stole her home from her. Honestly, Lada felt more like an antagonist because of how little character growth she had in this book.
I get that Lada was the daughter of Vlad the Impaler, and obviously that’s going to create some familial and emotional issues, but Lada’s aggression went above and beyond that, and even reached sociopathic levels in her utter lack of respect for life. Lada constantly complained that she deserved to have her homeland back, that no one loved it as she did, but upon reading those parts of “And I Darken,” I realized that Lada’s love for her kingdom was only extended toward the land itself and not to the people who lived within the boarders of Wallachia. Question: kingdoms are made up of territories and people who live on said land, correct? Yeah, I thought so. Lada was a terrify creature to read about, and I kept thinking about what would happen to the people, whom she cared nothing for nor ever thought about, when they were under her rule. Lada was barely better than the sultan in how merciless she was, and it felt like she would only be the lesser of two evils when acting as a ruler.
I wanted to enjoy “And I Darken,” but my dislike for Lada and the other characters, who were only slightly easier to read about, stopped me from being able to enjoy anything else that might have been interesting about this book. I was also sad about the plot because it seemed to drag a lot and was empty enough that, when I started grazing pages, there was nothing to miss; I could skip a few chapters at a time when I wanted to and still deduce what was happening quite accurately, which made this books lose what little hold it had left over me.
I finished “And I Darken” because it was a review e-ARC, but if that had not been the case, it would have been a DNF for me. This book never drew me in, not even with its historical aspects, and since the characters were all pretty despicable and manipulative, I had no one to root for and cheer on, which sealed the deal on my dislike of this book. I am so sorry for my strong feelings toward “And I Darken,” especially if you were a fan of it, but there was honestly nothing likable, redeeming, or interesting enough about this book to make me want to move forward with “The Conquerors Saga.” Sorry, but this was a major miss.