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.
Kiersten White is like one of my favorite authors ever, and when I saw that she was writing a story about a kick-ass princess in the Ottoman Empire I just knew that I would legitimately die if I did not get my hands on it.
Now, I hate to be the person with the unpopular opinion but I just didn't love this book. In short, I really liked Lada and Radu's character arcs, seeing them grow up from Lada being the older one with a reluctant caring for her brother to these two siblings, completely different in personality but both painfully loyal. I liked Mehmed as a character, though I generally didn't really acre about the romance or the little love triangle which arises, which is really my main problem with And I Darken.
What I really enjoyed though was the way politics and war comes into this story, as well as the very accepting way White takes religion - she uses it as a way to further differentiate the siblings but it doesn't become a thing - you know, when authors use a thing (think PoC, LGBT, religion etc) to make a book more daring, this doesn't do that - this takes something that could become an issue and turns it into a non-issue, I totally respect that. There is also very gentle handling of homosexuality - it is never really spoken about, it's just there and I really enjoyed that.
The thing is, whilst the characters and the things they go through are great and I can't fault those bits, I just couldn't really care about the romance, and whilst White's writing is still as gorgeous as ever (if anything it's just taken up a notch in this book). I still felt like I was meh about a big part of the book, which I absolutely hate to admit because I wanted to love this book but instead it's just around the realms of enjoy.
I think most people will like this book, and I can't completely put my finger on why I didn't aside from the whole romance thing not connecting for me, so if you want an interesting book with politics, wars, sibling rivalries at the next level and writing which can only be described as amazeballs, please pick this up. Even I can admit that it is a good read.
Overall Rating: B
Book released July 7th by Corgi Children's
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review