Wednesday, 17 August 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White // I could literally scream forever

Title: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Historical Retelling
Warnings: torture, violent murder, attempted rape
Rating: 5 stars
"Souls and thrones are irreconcilable."
I could literally scream forever about this book and nothing I ever write could truly do it justice.

And I Darken is a historical retelling of the life of Vlad the Impaler, but with one major twist. I admire White so much for writing Vlad as Lada, because there truly is so much to be said for this character through the perspective of a woman.

Lada is as brutal as any man, something that is unexpected for a woman of the 15th century and yet so fascinating to read about. She has a beautifully crafted character arc, as we see her grow from a brutal and screaming child to a leader who makes men tremble with fear.
"carve out a life for yourself however you can. No one will do it for you."
The relationship between Lada and her brother is wonderful. Radu is everything she is not: beautiful, lovable, and kind. As a reader it's almost impossible not to love him, or to pity his struggle with finding himself (both in his faith, and later in his feelings for Mehmed). The book is told from their dual perspectives and brilliantly crafted to show how their relationship shifts throughout the course of their lives. And I love their messed up love for one another. I love how they are two sides of the same coin - both calculating in their own hidden ways.

As for the history and politics of this book, ordinarily I would be at a loss. I know nothing about Vlad the Impaler, and often get lost in political motives, but I did not feel this once with And I Darken. It was complex for sure, but it was so easy to follow and everything was fully explained without ever being patronising.

And I Darken is a brilliant tale of twisted motives, the shifting nature of relationships, and the darkness buried deep within people. I am rarely a fan of historical fiction, but this is one of the few acceptions. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book and wait in eager anticipation for the Saga to continue.
Diversity Note: Gay Muslim Protagonist

An ebook copy of this book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I had to come and read your thoughts, after I knew you had loved this one, Helia!

    I totally agree with everything you said here. I ADORED the character growth that both Lada and Radu experienced, as well as how their relationship changed over time, as well.

    The writing style was absolutely gorgeous, and I was so intrigued by all the politics! It was explained in such a way that I was never lost or confused at all.

    I am usually not a fan of historical fiction, but wow, this one really is a standout!

    Also, I love that you mention the diversity in your reviews - it's a wonderful way to promote them :D

    Chiara @ Chiara Sullivan

    1. I am so here for dynamic sibling relationships and this book did it perfectly! It worked so well with their individual character developments too. Out of all the great things about And I Darken, Lada and Radu's relationship is the thing I'm looking forward to most in book 2.

      Also I'm exactly the same - I rarely pick up historical fiction unless there's some level of hype or something different that makes it intreguing, so And I Darken is a rare gem of a book.

      I'm glad you like my little diversity notes! Sometimes I don't mention diversity specifically within the review because it's not the focus of the story, so I like to have the note at the end so people know, 'hey, this is a book that represents me', or 'this book might give me some perspective when it comes to understanding other people' which is something that is super important to me.

      Thanks again for visiting, Chiara!