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.
- Goodreads.com description -
And I Darken is a gender swapped young adult retelling of Vlad the Impaler.
I have such mixed feelings about this book that it was hard to decide on a rating.
Let's start with the things I liked about this book:
- I really liked the main characters Lada and Radu. They are the very opposites of each other. Lada, the female version of Vlad the Impaler is a though girl, who likes to fight, refuses to marry anyone and detests wearing dresses. Her brother Radu, is a kind soul, does not like to fight and is desperate to be loved. He is an easy target but his sister is a force to be reckoned with.
- The book starts with the birth of Lada and Radu and we follow them through childhood to their teenage years. They are well developed characters and because we know their entire history, we are able to understand their feelings and choices better.
- The side characters Bogdan and especially Nicolae are amazing! The latter is a fun and welcome addition to the story and I wish to see more of him in the sequels.
- The political intrigue in this book was well done but I personally prefer a bit more action in young adult novels.
- The last 100-150 pages picked up the pace for me and there finally was some action. The plot twists were not that spectacular but definitely not bad either.
Things I didn't like about this book:
- Probably my main complaint is the fact that this book is very, very, very slow paced. I lost interest in this book a couple of times and ultimately put it aside three times in order to read different books. Like I said, the pace does pick up in the last 100 pages or so. I really think this book should have been shorter.
- I did not like the love interest, Mehmed, at all. I wish there hadn't been a love interest at all, actually, because I personally found the relationships in this book cringeworthy. Mehmed, in my opinion, does not deserve all the love bestowed on him. He is married and has a harem full of women and it's his duty to father as much sons as possible. Urgh, just no.
Furthermore, Mehmed quickly became the centre of the book, everything suddenly is all about him while I just wanted Lada and Radu to ditch him. I do not care for this dude at all. I hope to see a lot less of him in the following books but I'm not going to get my hopes up.
- Even though this is mostly historical accurate, I did not like how women were treated in this book. Women are literally nothing. Thankfully, Lada fights against this and we do see some very resourceful women throughout this novel, it just irked me most of the time.
- All of these characters but especially Lada and Radu are achingly lonely throughout the entire book. I just wish these siblings would talk to each other about their feelings instead of fighting all the time.
All things considered, I decided to give this book 3 stars but this might lower in the future. Since I was ready to throw it out of the window multiple times while reading it, a three star rating might not be fair.
Have you read And I Darken or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!