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And I Darken Hardcover – June 28, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—The first in a trilogy from best-selling author White, this historical adventure set in the mid-15th century tells the story of Lada and Radu, the children of Vlad Dracul, prince of Wallachia (modern-day Romania). Shouldered with the inescapable curse of being female and the unrelenting burden of her beautiful, sensitive, and physically inept brother, Radu, Lada is perpetually spoiling for a fight. When her father tries to secure his throne by giving the children as hostages to the Ottoman Empire, Lada and Radu must find a way to survive and thrive in a world where no one cares if they live or die. They befriend the young Ottoman heir Mehmet, and the three form a bond of friendship that saves their lives and ultimately shapes their adult destinies. Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history. Compared to White's painstaking development of her characters and the fantastic world they inhabit early in the novel, the ending sequence that sets up the next book in the series seems rather abrupt and haphazard. However, as a whole, the novel is breathtakingly good. The brutality and carnality of this time and place in history are faithfully rendered here, making the volume more appropriate for older teen readers. VERDICT Highly recommended for all high school collections.—Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TXYA Graphic Novels
“A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters—absolutely riveting.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger
“Kiersten White at her absolute best. The epic story will thrill you, the Transylvanian setting will transport you, and the characters (especially the fierce, take-no-prisoners Lada) will capture your heart. Don’t miss it.” —Cynthia Hand, New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series
“Sweeping and epic, AND I DARKEN is a gender-bent take on history that gives us a fierce and brutal heroine, a fascinating time period, and a beautifully intelligent look at love, family, and power. I loved every twisty, bloody moment of it!” —Rachel Hawkins, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
“As richly complex and glittering as the Ottoman Empire itself, AND I DARKEN is daring in its scope and brilliantly executed. The fiercely dark Lada is a razor-edged sword tempered in the blood of family betrayals and the fire of her own passions. I was instantly and utterly smitten. She haunted me long after I turned the final page and left me craving more.” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin series
“A jewel of a book—a jewel embedded in the hilt of a blood-soaked sword. A brilliantly envisioned alternate history that is meticulously detailed but compulsively readable, this is a story I could not put down. I demand the sequel like Lada demands Wallachia!” —Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series
"An intense, risky, passionate novel that dragged me through love and danger with the force of its heroine’s heart and the power of its hero’s faith.” —Tessa Gratton, author of the Gods of New Asgard series
“Girls with teeth and priorities. I want to read this book forever.” —E. K. Johnston, author of A Thousand Nights
★ "Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history…the novel is breathtakingly good.” —School Library Journal starred review
★ "White deftly weaves historical fact into this complex concoction of love, war, politics, homosexuality, religion, loyalty, and friendship." —Booklist starred review
"White excels at presenting an anti-hero who contrasts conventional female heroines. Readers expecting a typical love triangle tale will be surprised, for Lada’s characterization is executed in a far-from-stereotypical manner as White challenges femininity and explores the types of power women can wield. White also succeeds in crafting an accessible setting that brings complex historical figures to life."--VOYA
Praise for Kiersten White’s novels:
“A fast, flirty roller coaster of a ride. I’m in love!” —Becca Fitzpatrick, New York Times bestselling author of Hush, Hush
“The perfect blend of light and dark. I can’t wait for more!” —Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of Daughter of Deep Silence
★ “A tour de force.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
★ “Brilliant.” —The Bulletin, Starred
“An exciting gem.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black
“Sharp, heart-wrenching, and fabulously fun.”— Laini Taylor, bestselling author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times and Daughter of Smoke and Bone
The Chaos of Stars:
“Eloquent in its mixing of Egyptology with the experience of being a teenager . . . the character development, action-packed climax, intriguing family dynamics, and heartfelt romance will draw in fans.” —VOYA
Illusions of Fate:
“An absolute delight—a magical, sparkling, dangerous world with witty repartee and a romance that will light your heart on fire. Kiersten White’s best yet.” —Stephanie Perkins, internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss
“This well-written historical fantasy has romance, suspense, a fairy-tale feel, and a great ending that will leave readers cheering.” —SLJ
“Deliciously original in its intriguing plot and irresistible characters. ILLUSIONS OF FATE may be filled with spells, but it’s Kiersten White who is truly magic.” —Andrea Cremer, New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade series
In the Shadows:
★ “An enthralling, page-turning gothic mystery infused with hair-raising horror.”—Booklist, Starred
Top customer reviews
This book was long. So long. Almost 500 pages. And you feel it. Fast paced? Not so much. This isn't a light paranormal YA that it might first appear to be. It is more along the lines of a dense historical, political drama. It probably took me six times longer to read it than other books of the same length because it dragged. Year pass, politics happen, and events unfold in slow motion. I thought that it was going to be incredibly gory as well. It is a Dracula retelling. There is violence but most of it is implied, and even the scenes of torture have a dispassionate tone that robs them of their horror.
I am a bit torn about Lada. I love that streak of vicious practicality. There are very few female characters who break things down the way that she does. She finds her ultimate long-term goal and is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to get to it. Deliberately. The betrayals and deaths aren't accidents that just happen to come about. She carefully plans them to meet her own ends needs. She is a bit like the proverbial wolf gnawing away at a leg to get free of a trap. The loss of the limb is painful and might cause the animal to bleed out, but all they see is the ultimate goal.
When reading a character like this, it is impossible to get away from "likability". Yes, that old foe of powerful women raises its head yet again. Lada is unlikable. There, I said it. I wouldn't want to be her friend, and she flirts along the edge of being an antihero. She isn't sympathetic. I don't care. Whatever she did, I found understandable, and I wanted her to succeed. I mean, I also want to get her some therapy because she is emotionally constipated, but that is just the teacher in me.
I love Radu. Radu was likable. In fact, he is so likable that Radu liking Lada in the early parts of the book is one of the few reasons for liking Lada. Radu uses this as his weapon. The ability to make other trust and love him becomes a blade in his hand. He used it to get what he needs. Information, influence, and loyalty. In his way, he is just as ruthless and cold-blooded as Lada. For example, at the beginning of the book, he is bullied and manages to get revenge after months of planning using a servant boy whom he befriends to manipulate. It turned out well for the serving boy, but Radu still manipulates him. I liked this because I think that often people who are soft and lovable do this unconsciously. We all use the tools we have available.
If you like historical fiction, antiheroes, and a unique setting then And I Darken should go on your TBR right this minute.
In this truly wonderful novel, Kiersten White poses the question: What if Vlad the Impaler were a woman?
Then she takes us through the childhood and into the adulthood of her version of Vlad - a fierce, angry, patriotic girl named Lada out to get power no matter the cost - and her brother Radu, a sweet boy with a secret that shapes every part of his life.
It's historical fiction, but the book reads like a fantasy novel. I couldn't put it down. Highly, highly recommended.
“I am no longer the daughter of the dragon.” She lifted her chin, sights set on the horizon.
“I am the dragon.”
Oh sweet book feels! This book managed to combine fantasy with historical fiction set in young adult while being heavily historical but also accurate and highly entertaining. While I was reading this I kept pausing, to let this amazing story sink in and every time I would squeal with glee, its so amazing, it’s beautiful and everything a book should be frankly. This is the story of Vlad The Impaler, if he was a girl. I’m getting goosebumps writing this, I swear!
As the baby latched on with surprising fierceness, the nurse offered her own prayer.
Let her be strong.
Let her be sly.
And let her be ugly.
Born in 1435 in Transylvania to Vlad Dracul Prince of Wallachia aka Vlad the Dragon and Vasilissa Princess of Moldavia, named Ladislav the feminine form of Vlad, we meet Lada – soon to be the female Vlad The Impaler. Her father had no use for a daughter, apart from a good marriage, but Lada from a very young age showed she is not to be underestimated.
“I am your father. But that woman is not your mother. Your mother is Wallachia.”
I often request more badass heroines, that are not badass only for show, heroines that do stuff, heroines that are fierce and Lada is 100% that heroine. She’s a badass from birth, practically unwanted by her awful father and abandoned by her weak mother that couldn’t stand up to Vlad, she became her own person from day 1 and was never going to settle.
She was contrary and vicious and the meanest child the nurse had ever cared for. But in Lada she saw a spark, a passionate, fierce glimmer that refused to hide or be dimmed.
And so Lada grew up, with a brother she didn’t care for and a person she treated like a brother. It was a good build up for what’s to come to see her childhood in such detail. Sort of like an origin story. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, but also I’m extremely picky because I want there to be accuracy and kudos to the author for all the research, finally all these years of history lessons paid off because this blew my mind!
Lada as a character is fierce. Unlike most dystopian books that try to make the heroine want to be more than is what is expected of a woman, this one had the history to back it up, I can’t stress this enough. All around her, she sees the way the world is build, only fit for a man, and her brother, well he is not born to be a warrior for sure, but that’s all she wants, she wants more than to just sit and wait for whatever future her father arranges for her. She’s mad. She’s pissed at the limited choices she has and she fights back, there’s not a single moment that she gives up or changes her views.
“I am not something to be kept! Next you will tell me you want to keep me behind walls, keep me in padded, perfumes rooms, keep me here. I am not your concubine, Mehmed!”
The story takes place is Eastern Europe which is so rare to find, a lot of readers might be afraid to branch out of the usual setting for YA but trust me, this book went were no book would dare to go. I’m not big on religion in books and the author didn’t “take sides”, there are so many religions mentioned, and it was done in a clever way from Lada’s POV that she didn’t care much for, so there’s only enough to get the readers in that time period.
After Transylvania, Lada and her brother Radu are sort of taken to Edirne, northwestern Turkey near Greece and Bulgaria. This amazing journey is so historically accurate – or as accurate fiction and history combined can be – that I got chills. Christianity, Islam, harems, the entire Ottoman empire and actual historical figures come to play. We see her training with Janissaries and it’s amazing.
But also, love. It’s definitely not your typical YA love. No triangle whatsoever. While in Edirne, Lada and her brother befriend Mehmed The Second. There’s a complex relationship between the three of them that is so fascinating.
“None of them are real to me. You are the only real thing in my life.”
I’m very much interested in what this story will develop to, there’s only enough romance to make me crave more. But Lada? I ♥ her
His mouth answered hers.
It felt like fighting.
It felt like falling.
It felt like dying.
This book is only a small teaser of what is next to come – at least historically speaking – the bar is set so high I’m terrified of the next one. This is my first book from the author but I’m counting down the days for the next one! Don’t be afraid to branch out, if you ever though about reading a more historical YA story, this is it!
“Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”
Most recent customer reviews
So… I have some serious issues with this book because… the plot. Or rather I should say: “What plot?” Sadly, there wasn’t one.Read more