ARC Review: And I Darken

Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Genre: YA Historical/Fantasy
Page Length: 496 Pages
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC 
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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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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.
Once again my views on a highly anticipated book departs from the majority. Sadly "And I Darken" promised more than it gave and left me bored and wanting to pick a new read.

This book plays itself to be dark and gritty, vicious and ruthless to the core, but it didn't feel like "Game of Thrones" as pitched. It felt like the author was trying too hard to be dark and bloody with random (and not even many) scenes showing the cruelty of the Ottoman Empire.

The characterization was stellar though. I might not have liked any of the characters, but I completely understood them and empathized with their troubles. Lada faces limitations because of her gender so often, and I love the feminist ideas and unapologetic badass nature she exudes. She's constantly underestimated, and I loved seeing her surprise and impress others. Radu is the gentler soul who has a way with people. Mehmed struggles not to crumble under the pressure and conflicts surrounding his ascension to the throne.

I love the idea of a fantasy novel inspired by the Ottoman Empire. I just wish that the history was more fully explained. I felt some vital parts were excluded from the story that would have made things much simpler to comprehend. Especially Mehmed's obsession with Constantinopole.

The romance is one I foresaw early on, and I shipped it at times. I was marginally invested in the romantic development from the beginning of the book, but it's clear by the end that Lada will never let the happily ever after unfold. She complicates things too much, and her pride and stubborn nature will not let her yield to contentment.

The writing in this book is beautiful and flows elegantly. The pacing is unbelievably slow, and although I usually love stories with political conflict and people grappling for power, the components of this story all together just did not work for me.
Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.

11 comments:

  1. That's too bad to hear! I enjoyed Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series, and was hoping to pick this book up. I think I'll have to pass on it!
    Great review :)
    Erika @ Books, Stars, and the Pages in Between

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  2. Sadly, this is how I felt too {your review says it better}. I'm really hoping the next book will be better.

    Great review!

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  3. Aw sorry you didn't enjoy this! I'll still be giving this a go even though I don't think I'll like the mc much (too stubborn characters frustrate me) - great review!

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  4. So sorry you were bored Rachel! It definitely wasn't what I was expecting either I admit.

    I also wanted a more comprehensive timeline. I felt kind of dumb not knowing what all these conflicts were and what these years signified. There was no real correlation between the characters and the real world events.

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  5. That's too bad to hear you felt underwhelmed. I still plan on reading it eventually.

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  6. Aww...I'm sorry this was such a disappointment Rachel. :( It's always tough when a book doesn't live up to your expectations - especially when it's a book with a lot of hype around it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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  7. Oh no.. I was really looking forward to this book and I'm sorry to see it failed to meet your expectations :( The pacing might bother me if it's too slow, and even though I still do plan to read it some day, it's not high on my list of priorities now. Great review!

    Ruzaika @ The Regal Critiques

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  8. A shame that this one didn't quite follow through for you the way you wanted it to! It sounds like it has such a promising premise with this being based on the Ottoman Empire. Being a history fanatic like I am, I did appreciate the sound of it, but it seems like the history isn't well developed and it was like this book was trying a little too hard.

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  9. This book has beautiful covers, US and UK, but when I read premise I just knew it wasn't a book for me.
    But those few reviews I read are mostly not so good which is sad bc I loved Whites's Paranormalcy, even though I only read the first book.

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  10. I've seen really reaaaaaaally mixed reviews for this one, now that more people have read it. It's one of PRH's majorly hyped books, for better or for worse. I liked it - enough to give it 3.5 stars! I hated the "romance" though, I'm not a fan of love triangles. -_- I'm curious to see how closely White will stick to history.

    Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, though I definitely see why! You're not the black sheep, I've seen a 50/50 split (ish?) among bloggers. And there is nothing wrong with that!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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  11. I have seen many varied reactions to this book. It always make reading an anticipated book a little bit scary, but you gotta go for it. I hate that this was a disappointment for you!

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