“Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”
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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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.
And I Darken is fiction story about the historical figure Vlad The Impaler without any relation to the bloodsucking vampire that other fiction novels tried to portray him too. At least not yet from this first installment.
In this version, we have Lada as the girl version of Vlad The Impaler, who as a young Princess tried her best to excel in everything to get his father’s attention, including being cruel and heartless. Later on she and her brother Radu were taken hostage by Sultan Murad of the Ottoman Empire. Away from their land and family, both Lada and Radu find ways of coping up. Radu embrace Islam and its God, Muhammad while Lada focus on physical training with a group of soldiers who fights for the Ottoman Empire. During their stay at the palace, they met Mehmed, one of Sultan’s son who become a constant companion and close friend to them.
“Lada had a sense for power–the fine threads that connected everyone around her, the way those threads could be pulled, tightened, wrapped around someone until they cut off the blood supply. Or snapped entirely.”
Lada is cruel, heartless and vicious, and I hated her for the most part of the book, but that’s sort of the point. As a character base on Vlad The Impaler, it is expected for readers to not love or like Lada. Unless you are one of those who love heartless and sadistic characters. But in-spite of Lada being totally unlikeable and daunting, I still understand her. The way she wants to gets her father’s attention to please him, so he will finally recognize her value despite her being a girl shows her determination.
Kiersten White does an excellent job of blending fact and fiction in this book. Vlad’s background and life are weaved to Lada’s story in a way where readers will feel the rawness and reality of the story. All the heavy topics in the book are real issues from history, and worst we still have them now. Feminism, homosexuality, religion and war are just few issues that exist then and now. Though, Kiersten White doesn’t favor any side in this book nor sell propaganda it is still a good eye-opening or reminder for readers. I myself learn new things about religion and Islam from Radu and Mehmed’s lines and inner thoughts.
Another best thing that this book accomplished beside reminding me important political and social issues, is that it throws me online to check history and more facts where the story is based from. After reading, I had to read more about Vlad The Impaler and some of the characters mentioned in the story. A good refresher for me about the history of Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages.
“You once told me some lives are worth more than others. How many deaths before the scales tip out of our favor?”
Since the story is mostly based on Lada’s younger and teenage years, where she and his brother Radu are taken hostage by Murad, we don’t see yet her reign in Wallachia, which is one of the things I am excited about. If the next installment will follow history where this story is based from, then Lada in her throne in Wallachia will cover more of the wars and battles that Vlad The Impaler fought for his small kingdom. With that, I am excited to see Lada in battle, making all the decisions, tactics and sacrifices to win wars.
On the whole, And I Darken is an interesting take to Vlad The Impaler’s early life if he was born as a girl. An excellent start to anti-heroine’s journey that will surely intrigue readers about its main character, Lada and the real life historical person where she is based from.
* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.