andidarkenTitle: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Genres: Young AdultHistorical Fiction
Release Day: June 28th 2016
ARC kindly provided from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
AMAZON US | AMAZON UK
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No 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.

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.

5 stars!

“I am no longer the daughter of the dragon.” She lifted her chin, sights set on the horizon.
I am the dragon.”

Oh sweet book feels! This book managed to combine fantasy with historical fiction set in young adult while being heavily historical but also accurate and highly entertaining. While I was reading this I kept pausing, to let this amazing story sink in and every time I would squeal with glee, its so amazing, it’s beautiful and everything a book should be frankly. This is the story of Vlad The Impaler, if he was a girl. I’m getting goosebumps writing this, I swear!

As the baby latched on with surprising fierceness, the nurse offered her own prayer.
Let her be strong.
Let her be sly.
And let her be ugly.

Born in 1435 in Transylvania to Vlad Dracul Prince of Wallachia aka Vlad the Dragon and Vasilissa Princess of Moldavia, named Ladislav the feminine form of Vlad, we meet Lada – soon to be the female Vlad The Impaler. Her father had no use for a daughter, apart from a good marriage, but Lada from a very young age showed she is not to be underestimated.

“I am your father. But that woman is not your mother. Your mother is Wallachia.”

I often request more badass heroines, that are not badass only for show, heroines that do stuff, heroines that are fierce and Lada is 100% that heroine. She’s a badass from birth, practically unwanted by her awful father and abandoned by her weak mother that couldn’t stand up to Vlad, she became her own person from day 1 and was never going to settle.

She was contrary and vicious and the meanest child the nurse had ever cared for. But in Lada she saw a spark, a passionate, fierce glimmer that refused to hide or be dimmed.

And so Lada grew up, with a brother she didn’t care for and a person she treated like a brother. It was a good build up for what’s to come to see her childhood in such detail. Sort of like an origin story. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, but also I’m extremely picky because I want there to be accuracy and kudos to the author for all the research, finally all these years of history lessons paid off because this blew my mind!

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Lada as a character is fierce. Unlike most dystopian books that try to make the heroine want to be more than is what is expected of a woman, this one had the history to back it up, I can’t stress this enough. All around her, she sees the way the world is build, only fit for a man, and her brother, well he is not born to be a warrior for sure, but that’s all she wants, she wants more than to just sit and wait for whatever future her father arranges for her. She’s mad. She’s pissed at the limited choices she has and she fights back, there’s not a single moment that she gives up or changes her views.

“I am not something to be kept! Next you will tell me you want to keep me behind walls, keep me in padded, perfumes rooms, keep me here. I am not your concubine, Mehmed!”

The story takes place is Eastern Europe which is so rare to find, a lot of readers might be afraid to branch out of the usual setting for YA but trust me, this book went were no book would dare to go. I’m not big on religion in books and the author didn’t “take sides”, there are so many religions mentioned, and it was done in a clever way from Lada’s POV that she didn’t care much for, so there’s only enough to get the readers in that time period.

After Transylvania, Lada and her brother Radu are sort of taken to Edirne, northwestern Turkey near Greece and Bulgaria. This amazing journey is so historically accurate – or as accurate fiction and history combined can be – that I got chills. Christianity, Islam, harems, the entire Ottoman empire and actual historical figures come to play. We see her training with Janissaries and it’s amazing.

But also, love. It’s definitely not your typical YA love. No triangle whatsoever. While in Edirne, Lada and her brother befriend Mehmed The Second. There’s a complex relationship between the three of them that is so fascinating.

“None of them are real to me. You are the only real thing in my life.”

I’m very much interested in what this story will develop to, there’s only enough romance to make me crave more. But Lada? I her

His mouth answered hers.
It felt like fighting.
It felt like falling.
It felt like dying.

This book is only a small teaser of what is next to come – at least historically speaking – the bar is set so high I’m terrified of the next one. This is my first book from the author but I’m counting down the days for the next one! Don’t be afraid to branch out, if you ever though about reading a more historical YA story, this is it!

“Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”

kei

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