“They are less than the mud. You do not get angry at the mud for clinging to your shoe. You wipe it off and never look at it again.”
Raise your hand if you’re a big fan of historical fiction! I see myself as one, too. Theres something about the genre that really sucks me in. Perhaps, it started when I, as a child, loved seeking new information about stuff and places, whether it was real life or video games, and so when I started really getting into reading books, I slowly sought after anything that could quench my thirst for anything historical, fiction or not.
I like to occasionally seek out new historical books. I like to think I own quite the collection of WWII novels, and I needed something new. While looking up new releases, I stumbled upon And I Darken by Kiersten White. Like I mentioned, it was still available for pre-order, but when I looked closely at the title, it seemed… familiar?
Ah yes. I had just gotten an e-ARC of it a few months back, but sadly, my sensitive eyes cannot handle looking at screens for too long, especially not when it came to reading, so I had to dismiss it. But now that I found out the physical copy would be out in less than a month, I was still very intrigued.
I looked up the synopsis to refresh my memory and I’ve got to say, it had me screeching and clawing at my screen. The premise is unique! The synopsis itself calls it a
“Young Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire”
that should be enough to make you want to buy it, right? NO! Not yet! If you love political intrigue, badass women, feminism, and unbiased views, you
will have to pick it up!
The story is of Lada and her brother Radu, both children of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula, one day get taken away from their homeland Wallachia (Romania) to the Ottoman Empire, where they both are pawns in a political puzzle, forced to grow up in a foreign land. Lada seeks to plan out her vengeance one day, until her and Radu become friends with the sultans son, Mehmed, whom they arent sure are worth staying and fighting for or escape back to their homeland.
Its as intense as you can imagine, but the story is so beautifully crafted, I just cannot stop thinking about it till this day. White manages to create a story that might save and should be an inspiration to future YA historical fiction books.
“Her spine was steel. Her heart was armor. Her eyes were fire.”
The author creates a unique story set in Eastern Europe, with unique characters, that all have absolutely amazing development, and thats a lot to say since we’re only on the first book! But really, have you ever read a YA book yet with Dracula, Ottoman Empire, characters with normal everyday problems, and a set of amazing twists yet? I thought so.
It does not have the typical heroine you’d find in fantasy novels (I forgot to mention that it’s also a fantasy novel whoops), because Lada is ugly, fierce, angry, and absolutely nuts.
Shes almost too normal for a fantasy novel. She
- doesn’t like the thought of falling in love
- she doesn’t like being called pretty
- she gets her period
- she hates being called a girl
- she hates being seen as something inferior to men.
“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”
Meanwhile, Radu is sensitive, caring, loving, and just wants to make friends.
Radu is that one boy you just want to protect with all the love and care in the world because he must not get hurt and has to be protected with your life at all costs. It’s almost as if they switched out the brooding YA hero out with a female character. I can just hear people calling it a sin. Stop ruining stereotypes and gender roles, White!
“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.”
But no, really, this book was everything I ever loved and hoped for. It has an amazing set of characters, I genuinely loved them all and loved to hate them. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars, which I sadly cannot say much about without spoiling, but I highly recommend if you’d like a different kind of YA historical fantasy novel to save the day! And you’re in for a lot of unpredictable twists!