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Historical Fiction Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White (The Conquerors Saga #1)

Egalley thanks to Penguin Random House UK Children

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

 Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


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 And I Darken took me by surprise, peeps! I don't know what I've expected? Something more gentle, more typical for YA genre, more fantasy... This was ruthless and very well crafted historical fiction with one major twist - Kiersten White re-imagined Vlad Dracul as a girl. *grinning* Ugly, ruthless, wily and very kickass, but a girl.

It took me sometime to realise that there is no connection between Vlad as we know him and Lada, that she was Vlad, but when I caught on, I found it glorious.

Kiersten White is a fantastic writer no matter what genre she takes on, and And I Darken was no exception. The story started in 15th century Wallachia, with the countryside and customs and people described really well. Lada is a strong older sister, while Radu who is only a year younger than her, is beautiful and fragile, not suitable for the unfeeling world around him. She treats him harshly but she is also fiercely protective of him in her own way.

Inevitable happens and their father sends them as hostages to Edirne - into the heart of the Ottoman Empire, and from then on Lada and Radu's survival lays solely on their own shoulders. By accident they befriend sultan's third son, Mehmed, which is when their strange and fascinating rise to power begins.

This is an odd and compelling book, and Lada and Radu both have complex and emotionally twisted roles to play especially concerning Mehmed. The background is fascinating. I've read plenty of historical romances and historical fiction about Ottoman Empire, and I loved how well the author has described it. The Janissaries and the harem, the constant warmongering and the drive behind it, the court intrigues and the dream to bring down Constantinople... it's all there.

Above all, it's about three charismatic, strong characters fighting against expectations and rules enforced on them by others and prevailing in the end. I didn't know this is the first book in series, and while I lost a bit of interest during the military campaigns descriptions, I can not wait to find out what happens next! Totally recommended, I got such a kick out of this book.

* * *
И Я Темнею захватила меня врасплох, ребята. Я не знаю, чего я ожидала? Чего-то более мягкого, более типичного для жанра подросткового фикшна, более фэнтезийного... А получила жёсткий и очень хорошо написанный исторический фикшн с одним неожиданным поворотом сюжета - Кирстен Уайт вообразила Влада Дракулу девочкой - Ладой Дракулией. *смеясь* Уродливой, жестокой, дьявольски умной и очень сильной, но всё же девочкой.

Я долго гадала как Лада связана с Владом, пока наконец не поняла, что никак - она и есть Влад. И я была просто от этого в восторге.

Кирстен Уайт - фантастический автор что бы она не писала, и И Я Темнею в этом плане не исключение. Рассказ начинается в Валлахии в середине 15го века, где Лада и её младший брат Раду растут в тени жестокого старшего брата Мирчи и отца, который в погоне за властью готов продать даже своих детей. Если Лада сильная и беспощадная героиня с маккиавелевским умом, то Раду - слаб, хрупок и необычайно красив. Ни тот ни другая не отвечают требованиям времени, и вся их последующая жизнь окажется борьбой за привилегию жить против норм и ожиданий, наложенными на них обществом.

В подросковом возрасте Лада и Раду отправлены заложниками в Эдирну - столицу Оттоманской Империи и по счастливой случайности становятся друзьями забытого всеми и непопулярного третьего сына султана - Мехмеда. С этого момента троица объединяет силы, чтобы выжить и подняться к власти и трону.

Автор прекрасно описала и Валлахию и Оттоманскую империю с их разными обычаями и структорой и богатой культурой. И Лада и Раду - сложные, эмоционально накалённые персонажи с различными историями и персональными трагедиями, но жизнь обоих будет крутиться вокруг одной оси - Мехмеда. Я может немного заскучала во время описаний военных кампаний, однако читать эту серию буду с удовольствием, и вам её советую без колебаний!
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