And I Darken – Kiersten White

And I Darken goodreads coverNo 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. 

This was such an amazingly good book. I can highly reccomend it. Please do read it. The greatest thing about it is that it’s a feminist book, no doubt about it and not only that, it’s realistic. It’s a realistic feminist retelling and I love that White delivered it so well. It honestly portrays Lada’s struggles and what it’s like to find yourself in a foreign place with no one but your family. It was such a good read. I’m trying to find the money to buy the next asap. (BTW my mum’s reading this at the moment and she loves it so that has to be a sign of a great book)

The characters were so mixed and brilliant. I especially like the juxtaposition of Radu and Lada. It was such a nice contrast that added such depth to the story and the plot. Radu was so delicate and also hella manipulative. I love it. I also love how gay he was. Like, what a G. I also like that Kumal’s sister (I’ve forgotten her name… Navira??) was also hella gay and hella unapologetic. I think that she might be my gay icon until I find my next one. Also, Fatima? What a lad. She deserves all of the love for also being unapologetic as hell. #goals. Gotta love them gays.

I’ve read quite a few reviews that slam Lada over the fact that she let Mehmed change her and her plans. I think that it’s wonderful. It shows character growth and without it the book would have been so dull. I mean, all we would have been reading about would be Lada trying and failing to escape. And I’m gonna be honest that would have been a pretty dull book… So what she fell in love with a boy? The fact that she showed that she was able to love demonstrated her ability to grow as a person and learn. In the beginning of the book all she wanted was to show her father how useful she could be and that she was just as powerful and strong as any son he might have could be. But then she realised that that wasn’t working and so she changed her plan. Her plan then became survival. She was in a new, strange place and all she wanted was to go home. Whilst she didn’t actively try to escape, she did learn as much as she could and make her own decisions and judgement about situations. Then she met Mehmed and was almost married off before he saved her from that fate and she learned that perhaps other people could be trusted with her and her brothers safety. Whilst it wasn’t a quick lesson it was one that she learned and grew from. One that both she and Radu benefitted from. There is loads of other instances where she grew from incidences but you’re gonna have to read the book to find them for yourselves.  In conclusion, it is my belief that those who think that Lada changing plans because of another human being is unrealistic is an asshat and I’m sorry if you reading this are one of those people reading this because I don’t want to call you an asshat. But if you think that somebody growing and learning from their mistakes and becoming a different person is ridiculous then you, good sir, are ridiculous.  (I feel like I could write a good length essay on character growth and how it isn’t always in the most obvious way and how all of it is good even if the good character ends up hella bad and murdery. It shows a true representation of human beings and how they – I mean we – evolve and become different from our past selves.)

The setting description was beautiful and I love how Islam was a key component of the book. You don’t often see religions other than Christianity being shown in any depth in a book. I just love it so much. Also I think that we really need Islam to be brought to the forefront at the moment with a true representation of what it really is. Otherwise how will people be educated when they are so unwilling to be. I just don’t understand why people are so obstinate in their beliefs and unwilling to be educated and to have their views doubted and to doubt them themselves. It’s wild. It shows a real lack of character growth. You can tell that some people have yet to go through their character arc and that they need to asap.

The Ottoman Empire was just described beautifully and I love it so much. I really wish that I could visit it. I just love history so much. If I could marry it I would.

In case you couldn’t tell I gave this book 5/5 stars and it deserves everyone of them. Please just read this book, even if you don’t think it’s going to be your cup of tea. There’s something in there for everyone, I promise.



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