And I Darken - Kiersten White

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.

I can't quite place my finger on what about this book couldn't hold my attention. The plot was really interesting, the characters were strong, and there was a lovely world built, but for some reason I just kept reading one chapter of this and getting distracted.

 

The world created could very much be our world in the past with a few more countries and peoples created. I would have preferred entirely fantastical elements as Constantinople for example being a real place was continuously pulling me out to try and imagine this in today's world; alternately, if it all had been based on real places, I would have enjoyed the politics of the region over the mix. Nonetheless, it was easy to believe the world that was created, though I would have enjoyed more description of the terrain and such.

 

The politics of feminism in this were interesting to read about, as the sultans tended to keep harems and a lot of their sons found themselves dead simply for being a potential heir to the throne, leading to women searching for ways to find their own power.

 

I didn't become invested in Lada or Radu. I expected I'd love Lada, and I did for the first third of the book, but she lost me. Radu became more interesting as time went on and I did enjoy his versions of politicking and seeing how his values shifted...but he still didn't envelop me.

 

I really enjoyed the portrayal of Islam in this book. I've been living in the Middle East/North Africa for the past year and this book accurately depicted the peace and security a lot of my friends get from their religion. In today's media climate, that earns big brownie points for me and was by far my favourite part of the book. At one point Radu mentions horror at the idea of not hearing the call to prayer daily, and though I'm totally agnostic, that resonated with me.

 

I highly recommend this for people with good attention spans, but I was disappointed in myself for not getting terribly involved. My overall impression of this was wanting to love it, but getting bored.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.