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, 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.
First thought: If anything from this book ever happen to me I’d fucking darken too! Jeez, there’s too much angst and hate in this one. If I’m going to describe this book in one word, it would be dark —as the title claims.
Let her be strong. Let her be sly. She looked over at the princess, fifteen, lovely and delicate as the first spring blossoms. Wilted and broken on the bed. And let her be ugly.
This is the kind of book that has a very slow start. I have to push myself to keep reading during its first half. The second half of it came strong, and fierce, and ruthless, and so incredibly engaging that it absolutely made up for the lack of interesting things in the first half.
Since reading My Lady Jane I think I’ve come to love the idea of authors using a huge chunk of history and bending it a little to make a good fiction out of it. I’m not very familiar with the history of Vlad the impaler or the Ottoman Empire before reading this. After finishing this though, I still couldn’t get my head off the story that I spent more than a couple of hours (yes I really did) browsing for the history of Vlad and the House Draculesti. And I think that when a book leaves a reader with the urge to further explore the history that somehow envelopes it, that’s when it truly becomes a success.
Her spine was steel. Her heart was armor. Her eyes were fire.
And I Darken is a perfect blend of history, romance, war, and religion. It follows the journey of Lada and her brother, Radu, starting from their difficult childhood until the time they came of age. While Radu is the gentle one who always made friends with his smile and charm, Lada isn’t always a likeable character. She’s complicated. She’s cold, cruel, most of the times selfish. But the author also did a great job showing Lada’s almost invisible softer side that it is hard not to like her during those moments. Her courage and determination is remarkable as she fought to gain power during a time when women were deemed weak and incapable of having it.
There is romance in this book. It was good and infuriating at the same time. Lada and Mehmed clearly has strong affection for each other. But most of the times it kind of feel like Lada is too independent that she can do well without Mehmed.
And why do I have this bad feeling that Mehmed’s character will take a nasty turn in the next two books? That’s just me and my suspicions, though. But I’m still excited to know whether I’m wrong or right. My long wait for the next installment begins.