And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga, #1
Genres: historical, military, romance
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.
Everything about this book grabbed me from the start. A Count Dracula retelling? A female lead? Beautiful, gorgeous covers? Gimme, gimme, gimme!
“If Lada was the spiky green weed that sprouted in the midst of a drought-cracked riverbed, Radu was the delicate, sweet rose that wilted in anything less that the perfect conditions.”
I loved both the main characters, Lada and Radu, even while finding them both dislikeable in their own ways. Their relationship with each other is a well written view of siblings, showing how possible it is to love each other fiercely while being polar opposites in every way. The introduction of Mehmed further complicates matters between them, and although the love triangle is central to the novel, I didn’t feel like it overpowered all the other ways the characters interacted with each other and the secondary characters.
The settings are vivid and easy to lose yourself in, as is the plot. Oddly the plot wasn’t at all what I was expecting — this is very much the story of Lada before becoming Dracul. It’s far more about growing up and growing apart, and about finding your place in the world around you, than it is about violence, brutality or iconic historical figures. Despite not being what I expected, I loved this book and it feels like the rest of the trilogy will be more action-packed and even more exciting.