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BOOK REVIEW: And I Darken by Kiersten White

| 30 June 2016 | Reply


BOOK REVIEW: And I Darken by Kiersten White

July 2016
Penguin Random House Children’s UK
Paperback, £7.99 GBP
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli




“He will be angry. And Mircea will kill me. I am scared to die.”
“Everyone dies sometime. And I will not let Mircea kill you. If anyone is going to kill you, it will be me. Understand?”
Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. “Will you protect me?”
“Until the day I kill you.”

And I Darken is the book I have been waiting my entire life to read. No, really. It’s brutal, unforgiving, with characters that resemble G. R. R. Martin’s beloved cast in Game of Thrones and a plot so twisted, so incredible, that you will not see anything coming. It’s edge-of-your-seat fantastic.


As the baby latched on with surprising fierceness, the nurse offered her own prayer. 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.

Lada Dracul, born into an unforgiving empire under a father willing to bargain away the lives of herself and her brother Radu, is determined to keep herself and Radu alive, whatever the cost. Abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada is responsible in getting them out of there with their lives, knowing that their powerful lineage is also what makes them delicious targets. She is everything her brother is not: strong, passionate, willing to slaughter her way to freedom, whilst Radu is a beautiful flower, willing to use his looks and body to learn the court’s best and worst secrets.

Not only are they determined to get out alive, but Lada plans on having her bloody revenge on the empire holding them captive — and on their father.


“I wish I had been there,” Lada said.
Nicolae laughed darkly. “I wish I had not. But if you had been there, little dragon, whose side would you have fought on?”
“My own.”
Their father had killed Lada and Radu twice over– first by leaving them here, and next by breaking the treaty that protected their lives. She would not fight for him.”

There aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful, fantastic and challenging this book is. Told from the very beginning of Lada and Radu’s lives, to the pinnacle point of the story within their teenage years, And I Darken encompasses history, religion and legends and adds its own twists and plots to a story that is relentless in its telling. There is never a quiet moment, and I was pleasantly surprised with every page I turned.


“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

The relationship between Lada and Radu is wonderful: Lada both hates and loves her brother, the person everyone, it seems, in the Ottoman empire adores, whilst Radu constantly seeks Lada’s appreciation and approval by doing everything he can: from spying to gathering information to using the fact that he is adored by the emperor to get closer to him and his advisors, whilst also trying to, desperately, leave his sister’s shadow so that he can have a life of his own.

And I Darken is also steeped in challenging concepts. Based in a time where women were useless compared to men, Kiersten White shows the readers that women could be just as fierce as men, in many different ways.


Before, she had striven to prove herself the fastest, the cleverest, the most ruthless. But after Ivan’s lewd attack and Nicolae’s protective response, she had seen that none of it mattered. She would never be the best Janissary, because she would never be a Janissary. She could never be powerful on her own, because she would always be a woman.

But Lada is determined to use her passion to become something more than “just a woman to be married off”, and begins to learn the subtle art of poisoning men’s ears by the emperor’s wives. There is nothing Lada won’t do.

And I Darken is explosive in its fury, destructive and beautifully written with characters that come alive within the pages of the book. I cannot wait for the world to read this — it’s a story to truly behold.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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