Published by Delacorte Press on June 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
I knew going into this that it was a Vlad the Impaler retelling. But the moment I opened this book, I completely forgot that and got TOTALLY engrossed in the story. And then in about the last chapter or so I was reminded who, exactly, “Vlad” is in this book and I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it.
You start with Lada and Radu. Lada is older, tougher, stronger, female. Radu is younger, sensitive, handsome, male. Lada grows up protecting Radu and disliking his seemingly weak personality, Radu grows up wishing he could be more like Lada. Their father doesn’t give a shit about either of them.
They’re given over to the Ottoman Empire, where they meet Mehmed, the son of the Sultan. Lada focuses on keeping them alive long enough to go back to their home country, Wallachia. Radu finally finds somewhere that he can call home.
There is SO MUCH MORE I WANT TO SCREAM AT YOU ABOUT.
All the characters in And I Darken are INCREDIBLE. I love Lada. Even though I might not agree with some of her choices, I understand they actually come from a place of love. Radu I found weak, but the way that is worked into a strength as he grows older is wonderful.
Lada and Radu both play to their strengths in order to keep themselves alive, and watching these strengths grow and shape over the years was great. I love how it wasn’t always explained to the other character, so YOU understood what was going on but they didn’t. It made it a tense read, but really enjoyable.
And the setting. Muy bueno. The history (and religion) were rich without being overpowering.
If you even know who Vlad The the Impaler is, pick this up. If you like history, pick this up. If you love reading, PICK THIS UP.
Have you read it? What did you think?