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and i darkenWhat: And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Who: Corgi Childrens

When: July 7th 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Penguin Random House Australia for review.

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.

5cats2I’m just going to jump into the reasons why I loved And I Darken so much because who needs preamble to get excited, right?

Reason #1: Lada

Lada is the ACTUAL badass bitch that we have all been waiting for. We’re not just told that she is badass, and can kill people, and has da skillz. We see her training from the time she is, like, TWO years old. We are definitely shown that Lada is badass, we’re not just expected to believe it.

She also doesn’t play into the “to be badass you can’t have a heart or feelings or emotion because they’re weak” trope (which is pretty much my most hated trope in the universe). Lada likes to pretend that she doesn’t care about people, but she really, really does. She adores her brother, Radu, and will literally do anything for him. And he’s not the only one. Lada is willing to do anything for Mehmed, and I’m pretty sure that once you have her care or love then she will always be willing to protect you at any cost.

Reason #2: Radu

RADU. R A D U. MY BABY. My precious vegemite scroll. My little pumpkin.

Radu is my favourite sibling because he is adorable and vulnerable and hella gay. Do you know how exciting it was to find out that there was a gay narrator in this book? I don’t know WHY this hasn’t been shouted from the freaking rooftops, but it needs to be. RADU IS GAY. THERE’S GAY REP IN THIS NOVEL. IT’S HISTORICAL AND A RETELLING AND THERE’S A GAY CHARACTER.

But, of course, this was not the only facet of his character, nor was it the only facet of his character that I liked. I liked how he was not strong in the same way as Lada, but was strong nevertheless. I loved how he still loved Lada, no matter what she had done. I loved how he loved Mehmed. I loved how kind he was to people. I loved how innocent he was, and how utterly loveable. I adored everything about his character is what I’m saying here.

Reason #3: The character development

It was utterly amazing to watch both Radu and Lada grow over the course of this book. I know that some reviewers have lamented the fact that the first half of the story covers their childhood years, but I loved this. It made them so much more real, and it made me so much more invested in them, and it just showed how they changed, and how their relationships changed, and how their lives changed over the course of all these years. It was absolutely wonderful to see the gradual and epic changes to both of these characters.

Reason #4: The writing

The writing in And I Darken is absolutely gorgeous. There were so many times that I would read a passage, and have to read it again just so I could bask in the prettiness of it all. It was especially beautiful in Radu’s chapters – and even more so when he was talking about his love for Mehmed.

Reason #5: The story

Apparently I like political stories that involve war. Who would have guessed? Certainly not me. But I really loved the intricacies of the plot in this aspect, and seeing who the characters would trust, and who was plotting their downfall. I am always side eyeing the hell out of every character that even seems to be seedy in the slightest, and to see if my hunches are correct or incorrect is always fun. I love it when characters have multiple motives, and seeing how they all interplay in terms of the overarching plot of power and war and all those intense things.

Reason #6: I can’t wait to see what happens

Something huge happens at the end of And I Darken, and I really want to know what happens next. I want to see what happens in Lada’s life to make her into the infamous Vlad the Impaler (with some fictional embellishments and a gender change, of course). I want to see who Mehmed really loves, because even though his romance with Lada was at the forefront of this book, his true feelings were never revealed because he was not a point of view character. I am just SO excited for the next book in The Conqueror’s Saga!

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warningphysical assault, murder, attempted murder, domestic violence, torture, and war themes in this novel

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Posted on: August 12, 2016 • By: Chiara

22 Responses to Six Reasons Why I Loved And I Darken by Kiersten White

  1. Valerie says:

    YAYAYYA I am really glad you loved this Chiara! (I actually only liked it but I still loved Lada hahah. I loved cruel she was even at 2 years old or however old she was)

    And RADU IS GREAT TOO :) I loved his POV so much, it was one that I looked forward too, I think more than Lada’s POV!

    • Chiara says:

      Me, too! I’m sad that you didn’t LOVE it, though. But I’m still glad you liked it :D And cruel Lada was pretty much everything.

      ISN’T RADU PRECIOUS? I really, really hope that we still have his POV in the sequel!

  2. I THOUGHT I read that Radu was gay, but I haven’t read that many reviews. I’m so happy about this. It makes me want to read this one even MORE now. It already sounded fierce and fantastic.

    • Chiara says:

      There was nothing about it in the publicity for this book! I only found out by reading someone’s review. Ah, I really hope you read this one, Lauren! It’s been one of my favourites of the year. :)

  3. YES YES ALL THE YESES TO THIS BOOK.? I found it kind of slow, which initially made me dubious, but then OMG I just fell absolutely in love with the characters. I SO love how badass Lada is. She’s freakishly terrifying. <3 And Radu is the most precious cinnamon roll of the universe but I think he could TOTALLY do better then Mehmed. MEHMED DOESN'T EVEN NOTICE HIM. OMG RADU DESERVES SOMEONE WHO LOVES HIM LIKE THE LOVE HE DESERVES.

    Basically all the yeses to this book.

    • Chiara says:

      I know, right?! It was a bit slow, but to be honest I was just in love with everything. I loved how we got to know Lada and Radu over the course of their lives. It made them feel so much more real. Radu deserves someone who is as special as he is, dammit! I am hoping for an amazing love interest to come and sweep him off his feet.

      Hands down one of my favourites of 2016 so far!

  4. I’ve heard nothing but great things about how amazing this is, so I am so glad you enjoyed it too! Lada sounds like such a complex and vicious heroine and she kind of reminds me of Adelina from The Young Elites in a way. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • Chiara says:

      It is SO amazing! The hype made me scared for a little bit, but once I started reading I knew that the hype was deserved because this book is incredible. Ah, I really need to read The Young Elites! I have only heard good things. No problem, lovely! <3

  5. Clara Cheng says:

    I’m so tempted to read this book, have been hearing so many great things about it <3

  6. Omg this book sounds so freaking epic, I love how it goes from thwir childhood and how it covers the political war and two characters! Radu sounds like a darling and Lada sounds brutal but I’m glad she has a softer side to her too. Awesome review Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      Jeann, you have to read it! It is one of my faves of the year so far. I really adored the fact that the reader gets to know the characters from the time they are born. It was really awesome to read about them growing up! Radu is precious, and Lada is so complex and interesting that it’s hard not to love her. Thank you, dear! <3

  7. Oh my goodness, this book sounds so very gorgeous – I just love me a badass female character (and a princess, no less!), and the way the book explores the characters’ childhood seems so unique & fascinating & integral to beautiful character development. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Chiara – this is going on my TBR, and I cannot wait to read it. <3

    (Also, I have to add: "my precious vegemite scroll"? My god. You are such an Australian. It kind of hurts. ;))

    • Chiara says:

      This book is infinitely gorgeous, Topaz! I hope you get around to reading it one day because it is so worth it. Lada is 100% badass and ruthless, and everything that you could want when you say “badass girl”, which made me love her. And reading about Lada and Radu growing up was probably one of my favourite aspects of this book. No problem, lovely <3 I hope you love it!

      (I cannot help it!)

  8. I seriously died a little when I opened up the package and saw And I Darken sitting in that brown envelope, looking all pretty and dark and mysterious. So, so, so glad to be seeing so many great reviews coming in for this book, it’s one that’s high on my TBR list at the moment, and one which I’ll probably take on holidays with me! Glad you loved it Chiara xx

  9. Grace says:

    I absolutely love the cover! It’s gorgeous!

    Sounds like a great read. :)

  10. […] I ended up loving And I Darken more than I would have ever guessed, and you can read my full review here. […]

  11. Romi says:

    Aah! AAH! Can you sense my excitement? Is it palpable? I’m so glad I got to hear you talk about this book in bookckub, because it got me excited to read your review and to discover the book for myself and made me into a keen bean. Passion does that to me, and you are ~so~ passionate about this book and I love it. I added it to my tbr way back last month. *winks behind particularly suave glasses*

    There is a part of me that wonders, a little hesitantly, whether this is actually going to be something I enjoy in all the wholeness you did? Because I so desperately want to, and despite Lada sounding epic and wonerful and a little swoonworthy, and Radu being just about perfection in human form, and my wanting to love them and meet them and know them desperately, I’m always rather hesitant when it comes to historical novels (even when I adore them) and the story of Vlad is one I’m vaguely familiar with, but not one I necessarily have a keenness to invest myself in more. BUT. Your speaking on this and your review have well and truly sold me, and I’m going to give it a try with the full intention of loving it.

    An extra note on the writing! Because writing that makes you double back just to appreciate it? THAT IS THE WRITING WE LOVE. *cheers this writing* There needs to be some kind of fan club for epicly beautiful writing.

    I’m so, so glad this was an unexpected delight and it made you so happy to read. Your review is truly a stunner and I liked everything you wrote about this a lot.
    Also, Chiara. There are two “fives” in this list. I kinda love it, though, tbh. xx

    • Chiara says:

      I freaking adored this book, and I really want you to read it! I know you say that historical is not really your thing, but Romi – historical is not my thing AT ALL. I probably manage about two a year because I am usually not interested at all. But this one doesn’t feel historical – the writing is quite modern, as sis the way the characters speak and such. It never feels like a super historical novel that you have to wade through. So please read it!

      I love such pretty writing, and this one has it in spades. Especially in Radu’s chapters, when he’s thinking about Mehmed <3

      LOLLL. I cannot believe there are two fives *wails with laughter* <3

  12. […] And I Darken is one of my FAVOURITE BOOKS. This is a gender bent retelling of Vlad the Impaler, and Lada has a brother, Radu, who is a smol cinnamon bun who is gay AF. I can’t say whether this trilogy will fall into the “bury your gays” trope like so many do but for now Radu is alive and breathing and adorable. […]

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