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review 2017-03-28 02:27
And I Darken by Kiersten White
And I Darken - Kiersten White

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was a truly epic story. This story spans a lot of years and tells a sometimes brutal story. I was hooked by the book from almost the first page. I really couldn't get my mind to focus on anything besides this story until I had reached the end. It was a bigger story than I had expected with a lot of intricately woven layers. The characters were amazingly written and I found myself cheering for both Lada and Radu. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderful book.

Lada is the daughter of Vlad and she is fierce. The book opens at her birth and even as a very young child, Lada is brutal when needed. Her brother, Radu, does not share the same trait. In every way that Lada is brave and fierce, Radu is sensitive and needs protection. Her father is force to leave both Lada and Radu in the Ottoman courts and they fear that they may never see Wallachia again.

By chance, Lada and Radu cross paths with Mehmed as children and from an unlikely friendship. Mehmed is third in line to the throne of the Ottoman empire, a throne he knows he will most likely never hold. He keeps Lada and Radu by his side largely because Lada will not treat him as anything but her equal.

I enjoyed the characters in this story. Going into the book, I thought I would fall in love with Lada. Who doesn't love a fierce female character that can hold her own? She isn't pretty but she is brave. I did like Lada a lot but I was more taken with her brother's character, Radu. I didn't realize that there would be as much of a focus on Radu in the story as there was. Radu really grew as a character over the course of the book and he was a character that I found I had a lot of respect for. He was really as resourceful as his sister and could be brave when it was necessary. Mehmed is a character that really left me with conflicting feelings since there were things I loved about him and other things I disliked.

The setting of the story was perfectly written. I really could envision this place filled with uncertainty and brutality. The descriptions of everything from the Head Gardeners duties to life in the harem really helped to bring this world to life. I thought that the descriptions of religion in the story was well done and I liked that it was an important part of some of the characters' lives.

I would highly recommend this book to others. The story really has so many great elements from the historical setting, great characters, political intrigue, and even a bit of romance. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this planned trilogy!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Children's - Delacorte Press via NetGalley.

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review 2017-01-12 14:19
And I Darken
And I Darken - Kiersten White

(This review is also on my personal blog Atta's Bibliophilia.)

 

 I expected something a little more different but And I Darken is everything I could have ever wanted in a book even though there is no magic! I can't believe what an amazing book Kiersten White has written and I expect for the whole trilogy to ruin me emotionally and I will enjoy every second of my misery. This is the effect And I Darken had on me.
  
 Kiersten White writes in a beautiful and captivating way and I was immediately caught up in it. Her style is really good and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I couldn't be more satisfied with it than I already am.

  And I Darken is like nothing I've read before! It's something completely new to me, I didn't expect to like it so much! It's a historical fiction about the female version of Vlad The Impaler a.k.a. Vlad Dracul- Lada Dragwlya later Lada Dracul. The book appeals even more to me because the story takes part in the time of the Ottoman Empire and there are mentioned Bulgarians and even Varna- my city! I totally loved everything about it and I will just comment the characters as usual.

  Lada is a strong, ruthless heroine who I loved from the second she was born, literally. She is one of the strongest characters I've ever read about and she earned my respect when she was very young and then she kept proving that I respect her for a reason. She is frighteningly aware of the things that make her weak and easily manipulated and she does everything in her power to eliminate them even if it costs her her heart and happiness. Despite being distant to her brother and to their shared friend- Mehmed, she cares very much about them and protects them with everything she has. She is loyal and a very good friend and I couldn't like her more!

  Radu is weird. He is Lada's far more gentle brother who is beautiful and more intelligent and clever than people realise. He is impressive but not as much as his sister and his role in the empire gets bigger and bigger with every chapter of the book. He is not strong, not by my standards anyway but he is a cutie that I couldn't help but like. In the beginning of And I Darken he cries a lot but their story begins with them being born so it is understandable. He grows in the shadow of his sister and therefore learns how to use this to his advantage. Radu is amazing in his own way and I enjoyed his chapters almost as much as Lada's.

  Throughout the book the development of the Draculesti siblings is obvious and there is a big change in them. I expected Lada and Radu to work a little more together but the way things turned out to be are even better. They work very hard to protect Mehmed and Lada is maybe the best bodyguard someone will ever have. I also enjoyed pretty much the way their relationship with Mehmed was described and developed. I saw the feelings coming of course but I still loved it very much!

Nicolae is Lada's sidekick who is a very good and loyal friend to her. I was immediately impressed with him when he was first introduced to us. He is Wallachian and that's why Lada befriended him at first. He is one of the characters that I liked the best.

I love everything about And I Darken and I am even more fussy about Now I Rise! The first book is so amazing and overwhelming that I just cannot wait for the next one!
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review 2017-01-07 00:00
And I Darken
And I Darken - Kiersten White

Please note: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Two siblings are taken hostage by an empire in this young adult alternative historical novel. Let’s review!

Total honesty – this is nothing like Ms. White Paranormalcy series. Perhaps nothing like she has ever written before. Told between two points-of-view, Radu and Lada, it dealt with interesting issues such as faith, sex, politics, and homosexuality. Radu was well-written, and his character arch by far the best in the book. I always understood his motivations, and loved a certain “solution” he agrees to in the story to help a friend.

I had a hard time connecting to Lada. Lada is vicious in the beginning, rarely showing her affection to anyone. People are “things” to her, and she does not like sharing her things. She became more tolerable as the novel progressed, but my image of her had already tarnished. Considering half the story is written in her POV, I really needed to connect to her earlier in the story.

The love story was beyond frustrating. While I understood Radu’s love for Mehmed, I never quite understood Lada’s love. For both Lada and Radu to fall in love with him, I needed him to be irresistible.

tl;dr Interesting tale of politics, faith, and love set during the Ottoman empire.

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review 2016-11-24 10:30
Humbug
And I Darken - Kiersten White

„And I Darken“ von Kiersten White begegnete mir zuerst auf Nadines Blog MAD Books. Sie stellte es im April anlässlich der Aktion Gemeinsam Lesen vor und schrieb, die Protagonistin Lada sei erfrischend anders, weil sie keine typische Prinzessin sei, sondern unbequem, gemein und rücksichtslos. Sie empfahl es so vehement, dass ich neugierig wurde und ihrem Beispiel folgte, das Buch bei Netgalley anzufragen. Die Zusage des Verlags ließ zwei Wochen auf sich warten, aber letztendlich erhielt ich ein Rezensionsexemplar.

 

Ladislav Dragwlya verehrte ihren Vater stets mit nahezu blinder Hingabe. Sie tat alles, um Vlad II. Dracul zu beeindrucken und seine Aufmerksamkeit zu erlangen; um größer, stärker und schlauer zu werden. Sie weiß, möchte sie ernst genommen werden, darf sie keine zerbrechliche Prinzessin sein. Also wurde sie eine wahre Tochter der Walachei, brutal und skrupellos. Leider verloren all ihre Bemühungen ihre Bedeutung, als ihr Vater sie und ihren kleinen Bruder Radu den Osmanen als Geiseln überließ. Lada hasst die Türken und schwört, sich eines Tages dafür zu rächen, dass sie sie gefangen nahmen. Sie pflegt ihren Hass, nährt und hätschelt ihn, verfeinerte ihre Fähigkeiten und wurde zu einer gefürchteten Kriegerin. Niemand könnte Lada jemals zähmen. Niemand – außer Mehmed. Als sie den Sohn des Sultans kennenlernte, ahnte Lada nicht, dass er das Ziel ihrer Begierde werden würde. Doch während die Jahre vergingen, wuchs und veränderte sich ihre Freundschaft, bis Lada sich die Frage stellen muss, wem ihre Loyalität gehört: ihrem Land, ihrem Bruder oder dem Sohn des Mannes, der ihr die Freiheit raubte?

 

Im April kannte „And I Darken“ noch so gut wie niemand – heute entwickelt sich bereits ein solider Hype um den Trilogieauftakt. Ein Hype, dem ich mich wieder einmal nicht anschließen kann. Ich kann mit „And I Darken“ nichts anfangen, weil ich das Buch nicht verstehe. Ich nahm an, es würde die fiktive Lebensgeschichte der fiktiven Tochter des walachischen Woiwoden Vlad Țepeș erzählen. Ein folgenschweres Missverständnis, denn Ladislav ist zwar sehr wohl die Tochter eines Vlads, dabei handelt es sich allerdings um Vlad II. Dracul, nicht um Vlad III. Drӑculea, der unter dem Namen Vlad der Pfähler bekannt wurde und vermutlich als Inspiration für die Figur des Graf Dracula diente. Folglich ist Lada nicht die Tochter des Pfählers – sie ist selbst der Pfähler. Genau an diesem Punkt setzt es bei mir aus, weshalb ich das Buch nicht höher als mit zwei Sternen bewerten kann, trotz der grundsätzlich eingängigen Geschichte. Warum? Warum aus Vlad dem Pfähler eine Frau machen? Ich begreife es nicht und fand dadurch überhaupt keinen Zugang zu „And I Darken“. Vlad Țepeș ist eine Persönlichkeit der Geschichte, er hat tatsächlich gelebt und erlangte durch seine Grausamkeit zweifelhaften Ruhm. Ich verstehe nicht, was Kiersten White dazu bewog, sein Geschlecht zu ändern. Alles, was Vlad III. Drӑculea erreichte, konnte er nur erreichen, weil er ein Mann war. Das mag sexistisch klingen, ist im historischen Kontext allerdings die reine Wahrheit. Sein Leben wäre völlig anders verlaufen, wäre er eine Frau gewesen, weil Frauen zu dieser Zeit eben nicht die gleichen Rechte und Chancen wie Männer hatten. White ignoriert diesen Fakt schlichtweg und setzt sich dementsprechend über die historischen Gegebenheiten des 15. Jahrhunderts hinweg. Sie eröffnet ihrer Protagonistin Lada Möglichkeiten, die sie in Wahrheit niemals gehabt hätte. „And I Darken“ erschien mir daher höchst konstruiert und abwegig, obwohl White die Position der Frau abseits von Lada intensiv beleuchtet und realistisch darstellt, über welche Umwege sie Macht erlangen konnten. Darin liegt aber eben auch die Krux: Frauen mussten indirekt agieren, wollten sie Einfluss nehmen; Ladas direkte Methoden sind meiner Ansicht nach Humbug und stellen sie auf ein irreales Podest. Natürlich ist sie unabhängig von ihrem geschichtlichen Vorbild eine starke, ungewöhnliche Heldin mit speziellen Talenten und ich kann verstehen, dass dies einen gewissen Reiz auf viele Leser_innen ausübt. Manchmal ist sie vielleicht sogar zu hart, zu grausam, zu gefühlskalt, sodass sie mir hin und wieder ein wenig unglaubwürdig erschien. Ich mochte ihren Bruder Radu wesentlich lieber, auch weil über Radu als historische Person weniger bekannt ist und er somit mehr Spielraum für Spekulationen bietet. Schlussendlich spielte Sympathie für mich jedoch insgesamt keine große Rolle, weil ich nicht darüber hinwegkam, dass das Buch ein Leben nachzeichnet, das unter diesen Voraussetzungen historisch undenkbar gewesen wäre.

 

Für sich genommen ist „And I Darken“ kein schlechtes Buch. Vermutlich ist es sogar spannend und mitreißend, wenn man noch nichts oder nur wenig über Vlad III. Drӑculea weiß. Mir wurde ganz offensichtlich zum Verhängnis, dass ich mich bereits intensiv mit dem walachischen Herrscher auseinandergesetzt hatte und dementsprechend beurteilen kann, wie wirklichkeitsfremd Kiersten Whites Ansatz ist, ihn als Frau zu portraitieren. Ich kann ja nachvollziehen, dass sie eine fiktive Interpretation der historischen Fakten schreiben wollte, schließlich war Vlad Țepeș ein faszinierender Mann. Mit Ladislav als Protagonistin schoss sie meiner Ansicht jedoch weit übers Ziel hinaus. Ich werde die Trilogie „The Conqueror‘s Saga“ demzufolge nicht weiterlesen. Obwohl es mich durchaus ein bisschen neugierig macht, wie Ladislav Vlads folgende Jahre durchleben wird, gehe ich davon aus, dass ich mein prinzipielles Problem mit ihrer Geschichte nie überwinden werde. Außerdem weiß ich ja bereits grob, was passieren wird, weil mir Vlads Werdegang bekannt ist. Die Trilogie weiterzuverfolgen erscheint mir daher ein wenig überflüssig.
Falls ihr übrigens Lust habt, eine realistischere interpretative Biografie von Vlad III. Drӑculea zu lesen, möchte ich euch C.C. Humphreys‘ Roman „Vlad“ wärmstens ans Herz legen. Ich würde dieses Buch „And I Darken“ jeder Zeit vorziehen.

 

Vielen Dank an den Verlag Corgi Childrens für die Bereitstellung dieses Rezensionsexemplars via Netgalley im Austausch für eine ehrliche Rezension!

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/kiersten-white-and-i-darken
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review 2016-11-03 22:41
And I Darken - Kiersten White

I loved this book. It was incredible. It was intense and action packed and vicious and....ugh, I can't take it! IT WAS SO GOOD!!!! *cue fangirl flailing*

 

I've calmed down enough to make a list of coherent thoughts. I'm probably forgetting some things, but whatever. If I remember it, I will add it later. For now, here is my review:

 

As always, let us commence with characters. Lada is not one of those anti-heroes who claims to be all badass and then isn't. She is VICIOUS. She kills, she fights, she is violent and vicious and, quite frankly, terrifying. I thought Adelina from The Young Elites was scary, but hell no, that girl's got nothing on Lada. Lada. Such a pretty name for such a vicious and fierce character. I both admire and fear her. I also loved Radu, he's much softer and gentler than Lada, so he's more lovable. More huggable. Oh my god, I felt so much love for him. So much pain too- I just wanted to give him a big hug and take away all his sorrows. He's always getting underestimated and people think he's weak. And his love for Mehmed? *sobs* If you need me, I'll be sobbing in the corner screaming that it isn't fair. Radu deserves love and happiness. IT ISN'T FAIR!
I liked Mehmed at first, when the three were younger, but as he grew I came to resent him. Radu is too good for this guy.

 

Okay, the setting was amazing. The Ottoman Empire is really fascinating, and it's not a place that is featured in a lot of books. It made this unique, I liked it. Also: THIS IS NOT FANTASY. Yup, this is historical fiction. Some liberties were taken to make the story original, but still it's historical and I loved it. I took AP World History, yo. History's kind of my thing. And I actually knew some of the places/people that were mentioned.

 

Also, the writing is so gorgeous. *fangirls*

 

Tl;dr version- have literally no complaints about this book. None. It was perfection. I haven't loved a book this much since The Song of Achilles (and people, I love that book with all my heart and soul). I think And I Darken and The Song of Achilles are now officially tied for the book I love the most.

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