I did not finish Kiersten White’s novel. I made it to page 50 but not much had happened and there was too much head hopping. I bet once the “instigating event” takes place the ball will start rolling but it was only setting up the stage for the story instead of actually being the story.
I wasn’t sure who the main character was and it felt a bit unorganized. Where is the premise that everything revolves around? Is it that Radu needs to come of age and grow into his own confidence? Is it about Lada and her rise to the throne and stepping on whoever she can to get there? Is it about Vlad learning that family is most important? Is there a later love story with Bogdan? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to focus on or care about.
The prose were average, nothing to complain about and I bet if I made it further the action scene would’ve been kick ass. The title, cover and blurb enticed me but the story itself didn’t hook me unfortunately.
Here is the blurb of “And I Darken” –
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.
The second in this series is called “Now I Rise,” and the third is “Bright We Burn.”
Here are my thoughts live while reading:
The map is simplistic in the front interior design but the charts for mistress, spouse, descendant, and concubines for both Wallachia and Ottoman Empire are overwhelming.
I immediately don’t like Vlad Dracul after he detests his newborn daughter since she’s female. He’s greedy, entitled and unkind. This is set in Transylvania so is this a vampire story!?
Well, chapter 2 skips over a year then chapter 3 skips four years. I’m not a fan of large time jumps.
Lada has some fierce spunk for her young age but her father is terrible!
So only chapter one (year 1435) and chapter four (year 1445) had dates shown. But the second and third chapter also jumped around for years. So Radu was just born in the second chapter and it was in Vlad’s POV, so now that I’m entering Radu’s POV in chapter 4, he’d be age ten I think?
Radu isn’t as fierce physically as his older sister, Lada, but tries his own way of revenge through cunning and mischief. But the guilt wears on him. So far Radu is the most relatable with multiple dimensions and the others fall a little flat. But what is the point of the story? We’re getting bits and pieces of what their life is like and their personalities, but why? What do they want? Who is the protagonist?
Next we jump back to Lara’s POV, so there’s a lot of head hopping. She has a strange mystical spiritual moment in nature which doesn’t seem to fit her character at all and come out of the blue. I’m kind of confused about what I’m supposed to be feeling and the trajectory of the story.
I enjoyed the sentiment of the blood path for the friends to “marry” but I don’t like reading books from a preteens point of view. There are too many chapter here of what would be considered backstory of the main event, which I still don’t know yet. And then in one random paragraph, seven years just skips by. I can’t connect to characters that way.
If you like political fantasy stories written in third person, past tense with multiple points of view, then check out this one. But once I hit page 50/chapter 8, I decided to call it quits. Nothing of essence has happened much yet. Yes I am slightly sorry about Bogden, but not really because most of Lara’s interactions with him were told in retrospect instead of shown in the moment. So I haven’t had the opportunity to bond with Bogden myself. And even though Radu is the most relatable, he is not likeable at all. The boy is a weak kid who hasn’t shown us a reason to root for him.
Check out my own fantasy story, Scorched, to see if you’d like it more or less than “And I Darken.”