No one expects a princess to be brutal.
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
There is a tale of a leader that was known for his ferocity and the mutilation of his enemies that was among the earliest inspirations for the idea of vampires. That is the tale of Vlad the Impaler. If you had a choice between a history book about him and this book, And I Darken, please choose the history book. The characters are annoying and act irrationally and the plot jumps place to place.
Lada (this story’s female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, are prisoners in the Ottoman kingdom as an incentive for their father to keep faith with the Sultan .If he breaks his promises to the Ottoman empire, they die. To be honest, their father is a wimp and doesn’t deserve the land he has. He treats these kids terribly and attacks the Sultans lands at one point, effectively sacrificing his own kids. Luckily everyone had forgotten about them by that point.
While the characterizations of Lada and Radu are well-written, it was difficult to forge a connection with them. Lada has been described as a refreshing character due to her brutality. Mostly though, she is just a crazy bitch. Her go-to solution is violence in just about every instance. She falls for the Sultan’s son, Mehmed, and it makes no sense why. In all of the interactions that we see, they are arguing or she is being a jerk to him and then somehow making out by the end of the scene. He also has little to no personality so we have no idea why she has feelings besides “He is a boy so I like him.”
Radu is a little better but is still one of the most whiny characters ever! He gets jealous of his sister and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it gets quickly annoying. Every time we switch to his point of view, he whines about how no one loves him and blah blah blah. He, at one point, could have anyone he wanted because he becomes so popular. Nope, no one will ever measure to his love.
The book does skip around in time some and reading this may not be as bad as listening to the audio book because each time there is a time jump the year is presented at the beginning of the chapter, but this can be easy to miss while listening leading to some confusion over how much time has passed.
Partway through this book I was hoping the real Vlad would come along and do to me his namesake. That’s it. I am sooooooo done. Unless you love torturing yourself, skip it and pick up a history book.
The one thing that I can say that I did like about this book is that I enjoyed the exploration of the different ways it is possible to wield power. Not a new concept by any means but in many books that I can recall women and girls are taught to wield power over men through underhanded means using a combination of their wits and their beauty. This is not possible for Lada simply because, while she is somewhat intelligent, she is decidedly not pretty.
I actually enjoyed Lada and Radu’s characters early on in the story but they quickly grew tiring.
This book has also put me off any books for a while that have a main plotline if “so and so needs to win back his throne” wherein “so and so” is supposed to be a good guy. At least give me a good reason why the person currently on the throne is a bad choice for a ruler! We never actually see the villain, Halil Pasha (who does not rule himself but does not support Mehmed’s claim to the throne), do anything particularly evil. He tries to kill Mehmed once or twice but frankly that kind of thing seems rather rampant in the culture so that doesn’t really set him apart from, like, anyone else. There actually seemed like there were some kind of good reason’s that Mehmed should not rule. For instance, less pointless, religious wars.
Also, no spoilers, but there was a thing that happened towards the very end of the book that upset me a lot that was related to Mehmed being on the throne. And I get it, it is historically and culturally accurate and I kind of have to put my foot in my mouth for a recent comment about how YA books are prevented from getting as dark as they possibly could be simply because of their intended age group. Foot inserted into mouth. Done.
But if actions like these, no matter how much a character may or may not have liked it being done, are necessary to secure your rule what the f*** business do you have ruling a country/empire?!?
I suppose I will end my rant there though. I had moderately high expectations for this book and obviously I was let down.