And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken

byKiersten White

Hardcover | September 15, 2017

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The New York Times Bestseller!

“Absolutely riveting.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger 

This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters and a fearsome heroine. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in the And I Darken series.


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.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

“A dark and twisty fantasy . . . think Game of Thrones, but with teens.”—Seventeen
 
“Sinister, suspenseful, and unapologetically feminist.”—Buzzfeed
 
“Will completely spin you into another time and place.”—Bustle
 
“Takes no prisoners, offering up brutal, emotional historical fiction.”—NPR.org
KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken, Now I Rise, the Paranormalcy trilogy, the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies, The Chaos of Stars, Illusions of Fate, and In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. Her books have won several awards, including the Utah Book Award, the Evergreen Young Adult Book Aw...
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Title:And I DarkenFormat:HardcoverDimensions:496 pages, 9.38 × 6.38 × 1.55 inPublished:September 15, 2017Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553522310

ISBN - 13:9780553522310

Customer Reviews of And I Darken

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! It was a little slow to start, but i really enjoyed this book! I absolutely love the premise of the book, and I felt each character was really well developed. I'm extremely excited for the sequel!
Date published: 2017-06-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not good I really tried but I couldn't finish this.
Date published: 2017-05-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not good I really tried but I couldn't finish this.
Date published: 2017-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Refreshingly Unique And I Darken is a wonderful example of a unique premise with great execution. It explores a new part of history and brings it to life with stellar worldbuilding and lifelike characters that don't need to be wholly likeable to be appreciated. Lada and Radu's relationship, though not necessarily the healthiest, is one of the most realistic and well-written brother-sister relationships I've ever read. The only problem I had with this book was the slow pacing of the first half as the characters continuously circled around the same problems without doing anything to solve them, but overall And I Darken was a truly dark, vicious, encaptivating read.
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from couldn't finish it hate it, like why would lada say no to the man she loves, and she dies in history anyways.
Date published: 2017-04-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Characters AND I DARKEN is a really fascinating premise, and the characters are really well-developed (particularly Lada), but the plot takes so long to get moving. The first half of this book is just about Lada and Radu moving from place to place, getting an education. They're being traded like playing cards, but that's not what makes the plot so slow to start. Really, it's just that there's a lot of character development and basically no plot. There just isn't a good balance in the beginning, which makes the book difficult to persevere through. All in all: slow plot, great characters.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Read! "First, they needed to destroy the web. Then the spider would be powerless." -64% Lada and Radu are siblings, and while Lada lacks beauty she makes up for it in her wild and vicious persona, while Radu gets all the looks but is weak and subjected to bullying from everyone, even Lada. Life is good. Lada worships the ground her father walks on and tries to gain his love, until she realizes what kind of person he really is when he sacrifices them to the Sultan so he could maintain his little bit of power. There, Lada is miserable and Radu thrives (he even switches his religion), and then they meet Mehmed, the son of the Sultan. Things happen, love blossoms, chaos and assassination attempts are assumed, and through it all sacrifices are made. "What must be sacrificed to secure a future where no one can touch you?" -97% I have mixed feelings for this book. I loved the vicious, brutal character we found in Lada, and Radu gave us a nice break from her with his sweet, kind self. However, for them to develop, they both went through a stage of constant whining and repeating things we already knew (broken heart, unrequited love etc). Even with their development, there's still so much room for them to grow, with is great for the the rest of the series, but it frustrated me with how it was handled. Along with that, I loved the world and the time and how well it was done, but the history lessons that were crammed down our throat? I could go without those. Or at least have them toned down a bit. CHARACTERS Just thought you should know: I couldn't connect to any of the characters. At all. Lada is violent, cold, and strategic. She cares about no one but herself, and has an odd sense of Radu belonging to her, as she often said "Mine" when someone or something happened to hurt him and she stepped in. She comes off as ruthless, and she is in the beginning. I loved her violent and aggressive nature, she entertained me with her bad manners. However, almost as soon as Mehmed was introduced, she softened. Not much, but she smiled, she grew to tolerate and then seek out his company. She sacrificed things for him, and fell head over heels. This ruthless, cold and calculating character, who can't even find it in herself to love her brother, somehow softens and gives her heart to the sultan's son? Sure, it took time and a lot of jealousy, but it happened. I wouldn't mind so much if I actually liked Mehmed. Mehmed. He falls in love with Lada pretty quickly. And even so, he still has a Harem he pays a lot of attention to, enough to have knocked up two girls. If he loved Lada as much as he thinks he does, why would he hurt her as such? Oh yeah! Because she wouldn't put out. You go girl! But ugh. I found him cocky, obnoxious, naive, and oblivious. He would say one thing and then go and do something to contradict that when he thought no one was looking. I didn't care for him, and I certainly didn't understand the attraction, the love Radu and Lada have for him. Radu I liked, but not enough. He started off weak, pathetic, and always in need of rescuing. He hated his father yet loved Lada unconditionally because she was the one to rescue him time and again, even if she bullied him relentlessly with Bogdon. He worshiped Lada like Lada worshiped their father. But Lada realized her Father's true character before Radu ever saw and got fed up with hers. And he only noticed it because Lada and Radu both love Mehmed, and Radu thought he might get a chance if Lada was gone. He was kind, compassionate, and he was always thinking ten steps ahead for infiltration, and that helped me like him instead of just pity him. But his constant pain and heartbreak began to annoy and bore me, because it was repetitive. I felt bad for him, and I really hoped he would find someone else, someone more worthy, but he didn't. So instead the story began to drag. Nicolae I feel was just there to be a supporting character for Lada. He is easy going, a fighter, and he would follow Lada to the ends of the word if she asked. Not because he loves her romantically, but because he sees her as a sister, someone to bond with and connect to. I liked him. I would've liked to see more of his character though, so I'm hoping that happens in the next book. WRITING Other than an overload of information about this network of evil they must take down and fight against, religion, and history, I quite enjoyed the writing. Yes it dragged in some places (because of the info-dumps and repetitiveness), and this book honestly felt too long (like it could've been over long before it actually was), but it was still an enjoyable read. The author has brilliantly woven this world and time in history that I could visualize (it took a while for me to see it, but I got it eventually), and I loved the experience! PLOT It was predictable at times, but others it surprised me. It dragged quite a bit though, and I had been expecting more going in. OVERALL And I Darken is a brilliantly woven historical tale full of tragic sacrifices, faith, and brutal murder. When push comes to shove, will you do what needs to be done or try to find away out?
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good first installment Loved the world building that took place in this book. I'm hooked on the characters and I can't wait until the next book to see what happens (and see if the author is faithful to history) #plumreview
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED this book!! It's completely fantastic and not what I was expecting. And I Darken is an alternate history considering what if Vlad the Impaler was a woman. It is lush writing with some of the best character development I have ever read. I was completely immersed in Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire and I cannot wait for book 2 in this series.
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I will be looking for the next instalment as soon as it is released! I could not put this book down. I read it in two days (and that's pretty fast considering how busy I am right now). To say I enjoyed it is an understatement. So what did I like? First, the plotline and setting are unique. Set in 15th Century Ottoman Empire, Lada, the main character, has few options due to the fact that she had the misfortune to be born a female. From the start of the book, when Lada is a very small child, the reader can see she is headstrong and will revolt against societal norms for women. And we are not disappointed. Lada trains with the Janissaries, befriends the boy who will be Sultan (causing him to fall in love with her along the way) and rebels in every way possible. Lada is a character who is impossible not to love ... and to hate. But she is not the only complex and fully developed character in the novel. Her younger brother Radu is a gentler, more compassionate character but one the reader can't help empathizing with and loving. And the young sultan, Mehmet, is another character that draws the reader in. He, like the reader, can't resist the draw of Lada. Beyond setting and character development, this book is fast paced and filled with plot twists. One never knows what will happen next. The first book in a trilogy, I will be looking for the next instalment as soon as it is released!
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! This book had a really interesting premise and it delivered. The plot was really intricate, pulling you into the story with ease. The premise of a female Vlad the Impaler was also alluring. Character development and world building are definitely this book's assets.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 4 stars! i've truly never read anything like this before. it was fantastic.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeous Right from the first few pages, this book had me HOOKED. The language and writing style is stunning and makes the pages fly by. Would 100% recommend.
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 3.5 Stars - Ruthlessly Beautiful Favourite Quote: “I think of you like a sister,” he said. “Like a brilliant, violent, occasionally terrifying sister that I would follow to the ends of earth, in part because I respected her so much and in part because I feared what she would do to me of I refused. ” She nodded. “I would do awful things.” Thoughts: It took me over a month to read And I Darken, but eventually I waded my way through this dark retelling. That being said, I have a lot of good things to say about it. GORGEOUS COVER – like maybe the best cover of 2016? Incredibly historical, which might not be for everyone but personally I find really fascinating. Also why I was easily distracted, little action means it was easy to stop page turning and go to bed or watch some TV. Lada – at first I didn’t like her but as she grew and developed, I could see a lot of myself in her. She’s tough and stoic but also really passionate, diving head long into things with intensity. She had a lot of flaws but she was also inspiring; strong-willed, smart and determined. The writing was sharp, graphic, striking (I’m not finding words to capture what I experienced) and Lada had some incredibly strong, if slightly disturbing, lines. By the time I finished the story I was hooked, it was worth sticking with and I’m even eager for the second book.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Historical! "First, they needed to destroy the web. Then the spider would be powerless." -64% Lada and Radu are siblings, and while Lada lacks beauty she makes up for it in her wild and vicious persona, while Radu gets all the looks but is weak and subjected to bullying from everyone, even Lada. Life is good. Lada worships the ground her father walks on and tries to gain his love, until she realizes what kind of person he really is when he sacrifices them to the Sultan so he could maintain his little bit of power. There, Lada is miserable and Radu thrives (he even switches his religion), and then they meet Mehmed, the son of the Sultan. Things happen, love blossoms, chaos and assassination attempts are assumed, and through it all sacrifices are made. "What must be sacrificed to secure a future where no one can touch you?" -97% I have mixed feelings for this book. I loved the vicious, brutal character we found in Lada, and Radu gave us a nice break from her with his sweet, kind self. However, for them to develop, they both went through a stage of constant whining and repeating things we already knew (broken heart, unrequited love etc). Even with their development, there's still so much room for them to grow, with is great for the the rest of the series, but it frustrated me with how it was handled. Along with that, I loved the world and the time and how well it was done, but the history lessons that were crammed down our throat? I could go without those. Or at least have them toned down a bit. CHARACTERS Just thought you should know: I couldn't connect to any of the characters. At all. Lada is violent, cold, and strategic. She cares about no one but herself, and has an odd sense of Radu belonging to her, as she often said "Mine" when someone or something happened to hurt him and she stepped in. She comes off as ruthless, and she is in the beginning. I loved her violent and aggressive nature, she entertained me with her bad manners. However, almost as soon as Mehmed was introduced, she softened. Not much, but she smiled, she grew to tolerate and then seek out his company. She sacrificed things for him, and fell head over heels. This ruthless, cold and calculating character, who can't even find it in herself to love her brother, somehow softens and gives her heart to the sultan's son? Sure, it took time and a lot of jealousy, but it happened. I wouldn't mind so much if I actually liked Mehmed. Mehmed. He falls in love with Lada pretty quickly. And even so, he still has a Harem he pays a lot of attention to, enough to have knocked up two girls. If he loved Lada as much as he thinks he does, why would he hurt her as such? Oh yeah! Because she wouldn't put out. You go girl! But ugh. I found him cocky, obnoxious, naive, and oblivious. He would say one thing and then go and do something to contradict that when he thought no one was looking. I didn't care for him, and I certainly didn't understand the attraction, the love Radu and Lada have for him. Radu I liked, but not enough. He started off weak, pathetic, and always in need of rescuing. He hated his father yet loved Lada unconditionally because she was the one to rescue him time and again, even if she bullied him relentlessly with Bogdon. He worshiped Lada like Lada worshiped their father. But Lada realized her Father's true character before Radu ever saw and got fed up with hers. And he only noticed it because Lada and Radu both love Mehmed, and Radu thought he might get a chance if Lada was gone. He was kind, compassionate, and he was always thinking ten steps ahead for infiltration, and that helped me like him instead of just pity him. But his constant pain and heartbreak began to annoy and bore me, because it was repetitive. I felt bad for him, and I really hoped he would find someone else, someone more worthy, but he didn't. So instead the story began to drag. Nicolae I feel was just there to be a supporting character for Lada. He is easy going, a fighter, and he would follow Lada to the ends of the word if she asked. Not because he loves her romantically, but because he sees her as a sister, someone to bond with and connect to. I liked him. I would've liked to see more of his character though, so I'm hoping that happens in the next book. WRITING Other than an overload of information about this network of evil they must take down and fight against, religion, and history, I quite enjoyed the writing. Yes it dragged in some places (because of the info-dumps and repetitiveness), and this book honestly felt too long (like it could've been over long before it actually was), but it was still an enjoyable read. The author has brilliantly woven this world and time in history that I could visualize (it took a while for me to see it, but I got it eventually), and I loved the experience! PLOT It was predictable at times, but others it surprised me. It dragged quite a bit though, and I had been expecting more going in. OVERALL And I Darken is a brilliantly woven historical tale full of tragic sacrifices, faith, and brutal murder. When push comes to shove, will you do what needs to be done or try to find away out?
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was a fascinating and character-driven alternative history with a female Vlad the Impaler. This was #YAReadAlong's book this month. I'd actually tried to pick it up once before, but I just didn't end up getting into it. I'm really glad that I gave it another try though, because I ended up really enjoying it. There are so many fascinating things about the story. I don't typically go for books with unlikable main characters... and Lada is arguably an unlikable character in the extreme. She's aggressive, combative, and often cruel- except that watching her struggle to live her life on her terms meant she became a character that I was really invested in, despite her terribleness. I wouldn't say I supported all of her choices, but I definitely understood them. She's constantly in situations where she has to fear for her life, and covers that terror with rage so well that sometime she doesn't even realise what it is. She and her brother Rabu have a fascinatingly fraught relationship. They both function as more or less the sole constant presence in each other's lives- but both are constantly growing and shifting, changing into people that conflict with each other on some very basic levels. They're mirrors of one another in a lot of ways- Lada has little use for religion; while Rabu beings to find himself when he finds Islam, Lada fights with a direct approach and by making herself feared; Rabu strategies and fights by making himself loved. They're both incredibly interesting characters on their own, and their interactions were intriguing in how their differences stood out sharply. And yet, they care about each other, in their own complicated, messed-up way. It's this push and pull, with a lot of really complicated emotions. This conflict made more clear by Mehmed, the son of the Sultan to whom the siblings were given as a hostage. He really brings out the contrasting natures of Lada and Rabu. While complicating things by being both the person in love with Lada and the person who Rabu is in love with. There's a lot of development, both for the characters themselves and with respect to the plot. This books spans year, rather than weeks or months, though it does focus on specific periods of time within those years. So naturally, a lot happens. Readers get to watch Lada and Rabu grow from being children with very few options... to young adults who still have limited options, but are a heck of a lot better at making those work for them. We get to see them carving out places for themselves in a world that isn't at all welcoming to them. I could write a whole blog post on Lada's relationships: with herself, with her brother, with the world at large. One of the most interesting parts of this book was her complicated relationship with femininity. She's raised in a way that gives her very little respect for women, and often rails against being one herself. She's in possession of a lot of traits that aren't coded as feminine, and lives in a world where a woman isn't always a good thing to be. It's only toward the later half of the book where she meets women that she might respect and I'm interested to see how that plays out on the next two books. Likewise, I'm really hoping to see Rabu's character (and his relationship with his sexual orientation) develop too. I'm so intrigued by all the facets of both of these characters, and I'm so excited to see what's going to happen with them next (and a little concerned, because it's a very stab-y world they live in). Overall, this one was a pleasant surprise for me. It's strongly character driven, gritty, and intense, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story continues. P.S. Nazira is fantastic. I really like the friendship between her and Rabu. Also the friendship between Lada and Nicolae. There are a lot of really wonderful and well-crafted secondary characters, did I mention that. No? Well, here I am, mentioning it in a postscript.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Rough Start but Finished Strong I was very excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of And I Darken just a couple of days after its release. And while the book did have a rough start, it eventually recovered and lived up to expectations. And I Darken can be best considered as a historical novel, though from the beginning it is evident that it is a loose interpretation of history, not an accurate retelling. Set in Transylvania during the height of the Ottoman Empire, it can be described as more of an alternate history, as it replaces Prince Vlad the Impaler with fictional Princess Lada the Impaler. And I Darken had a rough start for me, as I initially disliked both Lada and Radu, finding them too extreme in their portrayal. Moreover, the actual plot was slow moving to start, which made the story hard to get into, and made it even harder to relate to the characters. However, Kiersten White creates such strong, presonable characters with very real, relatable problems and struggles, that it’s hard to continue disliking them as the plot thickens, and you’re drawn in. And I Darken definitely has something to offer – from action, to historical retelling, to strong female leads and positive LGBTQ2+ representation, this book truly does have it all. White’s portrayal of Lada is especially strong, but Radu and Mehmed hold their own as main characters as well. Overall, this book was fantastic, despite a slow start, and I would definitely recommend!
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved! I have loved Kiersten White's book for a few years now, and this one did not disappoint! It's very different from her other novels due to the fact that it's a historical novel. Her characters are multi-faceted and interesting and flawed and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their stories. Clever wit throughout the book, interesting plot twists, and a strong female lead. Really looking forward to the next book in this series!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from YES YES YES Absolutely amazing! Even though historical fiction is not my favourite this was a truly fascinating. It has an excellent cast of characters and the action was great. My only complaint is that it can get a little boring sometimes, especially because there is so much training and historical information that needs to be in it. But overall very, very good!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! Lada was so fantastically fierce! As soon as I heard about AND I DARKEN, I knew that I absolutely HAD to read it! The book sounded absolutely fantastic, and I was pretty sure that I wouldn't want to put it down...and as soon as I started it, I knew I was right! I loved EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of this book, and I really loved Lada!! She was so fierce and strong, and I loved seeing her exert her control in a time when women didn't have much control at all! I definitely couldn't be as fierce as her, but I really admired her strength, and I sympathized with her when she was insecure about things. I especially loved seeing her relationships evolve and I enjoyed the dynamics that she had with the other characters, including Mehmed, Radu, and all of the Wallachian soldiers. I liked Radu too, but I really loved this book for Lada. :D I'm not super familiar with Dracula's story, so I wasn't critical with how Lada's story fits in with the historical side while reading, but I still really liked how it was clear that Lada = Vlad...it was so neat!! After finishing AND I DARKEN, I did look into Vlad the Impaler a little bit though, and I thought it was super interesting to see the narrative of his history, and to see how Lada's story overlapped with Vlad's history. Vlad's history is pretty dark, and it doesn't have the happiest of endings, so I'll be very interested to see how Kiersten White continues to explore Lada's story! I'm crossing my fingers that it isn't quite as bleak...but even if it is, I know that she won't go down without one hell of a fight! Overall, I absolutely LOVED AND I DARKEN! Lada is un-apologetically fierce, and I loved seeing such a strong female character who wasn't afraid to show just how dangerous and deadly she could be. I also loved seeing her take charge! I can't wait to read the next book, NOW I RISE, and I'd recommend AND I DARKEN to anyone who loves fierce heroines, especially if you have a soft spot for historical fiction!
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb! This book was so amazing and I could not put it down!
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! So different then anything I have read before, super intriguing concept and great characters. Will be continuing on with the series.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Strong female lead - Excellent historical fiction! The novel is based on history, though it is not historically accurate. Set in Transylvania during the height of the Ottoman Empire, it can be described as more of an alternate history, as it replaces Prince Vlad the Impaler with fictional Princess Lada the Impaler. Lada is very “anti-princess” and aims to take care of herself, unusual for that time period. She refuses to wed and learns to fight. From infancy she is fierce and overall is a female character to be respected and cherished. This book examines various empires and rulers throughout history while giving insight into Islam religious practice. It also examines the difficulties faced by homosexual individuals. Best Comparable Titles: Song of the Lioness series and Protector of the Small series – both written by Tamora Pierce
Date published: 2016-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read This Book! This is the best book I have read in a long time, Lada is fierce, vicious, and learning. She has her convictions, and they are immensely strong, but they are also challenged, and she is forced to confront her decisions, beliefs, and what it is that motivates her. She does not play by anyone's rules, and resents her brother, Radu, who does. Yet even her attitudes towards him are violently shaken when his diplomacy, and skill at court, saves them both. These are two individuals wielding utterly different forms of power, both defying what was originally expected of them, while trying not to lose themselves in the process. They are hints of a love triangle, but it does not fully emerge (thankfully). Loyalty, and to what or whom it is owed to, is a major theme in this book and treated very well. Lada is uncompromisingly herself and is not ashamed of it. I love that she spends about the first half of the novel trying to be a man in a man’s world, before realising that she is not a man, will never be one, and will need to be a woman in a man’s world…but that that does not need to stop her from pursuing any of her goals. I thought it unfortunate that everything she achieved was as a result of her relationship with the sultan –she says as much. As a result I am really looking forward to how her character develops over the next two books as while she is going home to rule Wallachia because of him, the choices she makes there, and the rule she has, should be entirely her own. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she grows as a character. I love that she puts her own needs, and goals, first and isn’t demonized for it. She makes difficult choices and sacrifices personal relationships in order to do what is best for her, and I think that is an immensely important message for teenage girls, as too often media is portraying them as a the side-piece uplifting a man’s story, and Lada is here going “no, this is your story and you do what is best for YOU”, and it is truly wonderful. If you liked Red Queen, you'll enjoy this. If you liked Red Queen but found yourself sometimes wanting a fiercer leading lady, you'll love this.
Date published: 2016-04-25

Read from the Book

1  1435: Sighisoara, Transylvania  Vlad Dracul’s heavy brow descended like a storm when the doctor informed him that his wife had given birth to a girl. His other children—one from his first wife, now nearly full grown, and even a bastard child from his mistress, born last year—had been boys. He had not thought his seed weak enough to produce a girl. He pushed through the door, into the close, heavy air of the tiny bedroom. It stank of blood and fear and filled him with disgust. Their home in the fortified hill city of Sighisoara was a far cry from what he deserved. It sat next to the main gate, in the suffocating press of the square, beside an alley that reeked of human waste. His retainer of ten men was merely ceremonial, rendering him a glorified placeholder. He might have been the military governor of Transylvania, but he was supposed to be the ruler of all Wallachia. Perhaps that was why he had been cursed with a girl. Another insult to his honor. He was in the Order of the Dragon, sanctioned by the pope himself. He should be the vaivode, the warlord prince, but his brother sat on the throne, while he was governor of Saxons squatting on his own country’s land. Soon he would show them his honor on the end of a sword. Vasilissa lay on the bed, soaked in sweat and moaning in pain. Certainly the weakness that took root in her womb had been her own. His stomach turned at the sight of her, princess now in neither demeanor nor appearance. The nurse held up a squalling, red-faced little monster. He had no names for a girl. Vasilissa would doubtless want something that honored her family, but Vlad hated the Moldavian royals she came from for failing to bring him any political advantage. He had already named his bastard Vlad, after himself. He would name his daughter the same. “Ladislav,” he declared. It was a feminine form of Vlad. Diminutive. Diminished. If Vasilissa wanted a strong name, she would have to bear him a son. “Let us pray she is beautiful so we can get some use out of her,” he said. The infant screamed louder.   Vasilissa’s royal breasts were far too important to suckle from. The wet nurse waited until Vlad left, then held the babe to her common teats. She was still full of milk from her own child, a boy. 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.    2  Vlad could not be bothered to be present for the birth of his second child by Vasilissa: a son, a year younger than his sister, practically chasing her into this world. The nurse finished cleaning the newborn, then held him out to his mother. He was tiny, perfect, with a mouth like a rosebud and a full head of dark hair. Vasilissa lay, glassy-eyed and mute, on the bed. She stared at the wall. Her gaze never even drifted to her son. A tug on the nurse’s skirt brought her attention downward, where tiny Lada stood, scowling. The nurse angled the baby toward his sister. “A brother,” she said, her voice soft. The baby started to cry, a weak, garbled sound that worried the nurse. Lada’s scowl deepened. She slapped a dimpled hand over his mouth. The nurse pulled him away quickly, and Lada looked up, face contorted in rage. “Mine!” she shouted. It was her first word. The nurse laughed, shocked, and lowered the baby once more. Lada glared at him until he stopped crying. Then, apparently satisfied, she toddled out of the room.    3  If Vasilissa saw her daughter wrestling on the floor with the dogs and the nurse’s son, Bogdan, the nurse would lose her position. However, since the birth of Radu four years ago, Vasilissa never left her rooms. Radu had gotten all the beauty their father had wished on his daughter. His eyes were framed by thick lashes, his lips full, his gentle curls kissed with a hint of Saxon gold. Bogdan screamed as Lada—Ladislav, now five, refused to answer to her full name—bit down on his thigh. He punched her. She bit harder, and he cried for help. “If she wants to eat your leg, she is allowed,” the nurse said. “Quit screaming or I will let her eat your supper, too.” Like her brother, Lada had big eyes, but hers were close-set, with arched brows that made her look perpetually cross. Her hair was a tangled mass, so dark that her pale skin appeared sickly. Her nose was long and hooked, her lips thin, her teeth small and—judging from Bogdan’s angry cries—quite sharp. She was contrary and vicious and the meanest child the nurse had ever cared for. She was also the nurse’s favorite. By all rights the girl should be silent and proper, fearful and simpering. Her father was a powerless tyrant, cruel in his impotence and absent for months at a time. Her mother was every bit as absent, withdrawn and worthless in their home, incapable of doing anything to help herself. They were an apt representation of the entire region—particularly the nurse’s homeland of Wallachia. But in Lada she saw a spark, a passionate, fierce glimmer that refused to hide or be dimmed. Rather than trying to stamp out that fire for the sake of Lada’s future, the nurse nurtured it. It made her feel oddly hopeful. If Lada was the spiky green weed that sprouted in the midst of a drought-cracked riverbed, Radu was the delicate, sweet rose that wilted in anything less than the perfect conditions. Right now he wailed at the nurse’s pause in spooning the thin gruel, sweetened with honey, into his mouth. “Make him shut up!” Lada climbed over her father’s largest hound, grizzled and patient with age. “How should I do that?” “Smother him!” “Lada! Bite your tongue. He is your brother.” “He is a worm. Bogdan is my brother.” The nurse scowled, wiping Radu’s face with her apron. “Bogdan is not your brother.” I would sooner lie with the dogs than your father, she thought. “He is! You are. Say you are.” Lada jumped onto Bogdan’s back. Though he was two years older and far bigger, she pinned him to the ground, jamming her elbow into his shoulder. “I am! I am!” he said, half giggling, half crying. “Throw Radu out with the chamber pots!” Radu wailed louder, working himself up to a fit. The nurse clucked her tongue, picking him up even though he was much too large to be carried around. He put a hand in her blouse and pinched her skin, which was loose and wrinkled like an old apple. She sometimes wished he would shut up, too, but when he did speak it was always so sweet it made up for his tantrums. He even smelled nice, as if honey clung to his mouth between meals. “Be a good boy,” the nurse said, “and you can go sledding with Lada and Bogdan later. Would you like that?” Radu shook his head, lip trembling with the threat of more tears. “Or we could visit the horses.” He nodded slowly and the nurse sighed with relief. She looked up to find Lada gone. “Where did she go?” Bogdan’s eyes widened in fear and indecision. Already he did not know whose wrath to fear more—his mother’s or tiny Lada’s. Huffing, the nurse tucked Radu onto her hip, his feet bouncing against her legs with every step. She stalked down the hall toward the narrow stairs leading to the bedrooms. “Lada, if you wake your mother, there will be—” She stopped, holding perfectly still, her fearful expression matching Bogdan’s own. From the sitting room near the front of the house, she heard voices. Low voices. Men’s voices. Speaking in Turkish, the language of their oftentimes enemy, the Ottomans. Which meant Vlad was home, and Lada was— The nurse ran down the hall and burst into the sitting room to find Lada standing in the middle of the room. “I kill infidels!” the child snarled, brandishing a small kitchen knife. “Do you?” Vlad spoke to her in the language of the Saxons, the tongue most spoken in Sighisoara. The nurse’s Saxon was crude, and while Vasilissa was fluent in several languages, she never spoke with the children. Lada and Radu spoke only Wallachian. Lada waved the knife at him in answer to the question she did not understand. Vlad raised an eyebrow. He was wrapped in a fine cloak, an elaborate hat on his head. It had been nearly a year since Lada had seen her father. She did not recognize him. “Lada!” the nurse whispered. “Come here at once.” Lada stood as tall as her short, stocky legs allowed. “This is my home! I am the Order of the Dragon! I kill infidels!” One of the three men accompanying Vlad murmured something in Turkish. The nurse felt sweat breaking out on her face, her neck, her back. Would they kill a child for threatening them? Would her father allow it? Or would they simply kill her for being unable to control Lada? Vlad smiled indulgently at his daughter’s display, then bowed his head at the three men. They returned the bow and swept out, acknowledging neither the nurse nor her disobedient charge. “How many infidels have you killed?” Vlad’s voice, this time in the melodic romance language tones of Wallachian, was smooth and cold. “Hundreds.” Lada pointed the knife at Radu, who hid his face against the nurse’s shoulder. “I killed that one this morning.” “And will you kill me now?” Lada hesitated, lowering her hand. She stared at her father, recognition seeping across her face like milk dropped in clear water. As quick as a snake, Vlad snatched the knife out of her hand, then grabbed her by the ankle and lifted her into the air. “And how,” he said, her upside-down face level with his, “did you think you could kill someone bigger, stronger, and smarter than you?” “You cheated!” Lada’s eyes burned with a look the nurse had come to dread. That look meant injury, destruction, or fire. Often all three. “I won. That is all that matters.” With a scream, Lada twisted herself up and bit her father’s hand. “God’s wounds!” He dropped her on the floor. She tucked into a ball, rolled out of his reach, then crouched, baring her teeth at him. The nurse cringed, waiting for Vlad to fly into a rage and beat Lada. Or beat her for her failure to keep Lada tame and docile. Instead, he laughed. “My daughter is feral.” “So sorry, my lord.” The nurse ducked her head, gesturing frantically at Lada. “She is overexcited upon seeing you again after so long an absence.” “What of their instruction? She does not speak Saxon.” “No, my lord.” That was not quite true. Lada had picked up Saxon obscenities and frequently yelled them out the window at people in the busy square. “She knows a bit of Hungarian. But there has been no one to see to the children’s education.” He clucked his tongue, a thoughtful look in his shrewd eyes. “And what of this one? Is he as fierce?” Vlad leaned in to where Radu had finally peered outward. Radu immediately burst into tears, burying his face once more in the nurse’s shoulder and shoving his hand beneath her cap to wrap it in her hair. Vlad’s lip turned up in disgust. “This one takes after his mother. Vasilissa!” he shouted, so loud that Radu was terrified into silence interrupted only by hiccups and sniffles. The nurse did not know whether to stay or leave, but she had not been dismissed. Lada ignored her, wary eyes fixed on her father. “Vasilissa!” Vlad roared again. He reached out to snatch Lada, but this time she was ready. She scrambled away, crawling under the polished table. Vlad rapped his knuckles on it. “Very good. Vasilissa!” His wife stumbled into the room, hair down, wrapped in nothing but a dressing robe. She was worn thin. Her cheekbones jutted out under grayed, empty eyes. If the birth of Lada had nearly killed her, Radu’s had drained whatever life she had left. She took in the scene—Radu tearstained, Lada under the table, and her husband, finally home—with a dull gaze. “Yes?” she asked. “Is that how you greet your husband? The vaivode of Wallachia? The prince?” He smiled in triumph, his long mustache lifting to reveal thin lips. Vasilissa stiffened. “They are making you prince? What of Alexandru?” “My brother is dead.” The nurse did not think Vlad looked much like a man in mourning. Finally noticing her daughter, Vasilissa beckoned to her. “Ladislav, come out from under there. Your father is home.” Lada did not move. “He is not my father.” “Make her come out,” Vasilissa snapped at the nurse. “Can you not command your own child?” Vlad’s voice was as clear as a blue sky in the freezing depths of winter. The sun with teeth, they called those days. The nurse shrank further into herself, shifting so that Radu, at least, was out of Vlad’s sight. Vasilissa looked frantically to either side, but there was no escape from the room. “I want to go home,” she whispered. “Back to Moldavia. Please let me.” “Beg.” Vasilissa’s tiny frame trembled. Then she dropped to her knees, lowered her head, and took Vlad’s hand in her own. “Please. Please, I beg of you. Let me go home.” Vlad put out his other hand and stroked Vasilissa’s lank, greasy hair. Then he grabbed it, wrenching her head to the side. She cried out, but he pulled tighter, forcing her to stand. He placed his lips against her ear. “You are the weakest creature I have ever known. Crawl back to your hole and hide there. Crawl!” He threw her down, and, sobbing, she crawled from the room. The nurse looked steadily at the finely woven rug that covered the stone floor. She said nothing. She did nothing. She prayed that Radu would remain silent. “You.” Vlad pointed at Lada. “Come out. Now.” She did, still watching the door Vasilissa had disappeared through. “I am your father. But that woman is not your mother. Your mother is Wallachia. Your mother is the very earth we go to now, the land I am prince of. Do you understand?” Lada looked up into her father’s eyes, deep-set and etched with years of cunning and cruelty. She nodded, then held out her hand. “The daughter of Wallachia wants her knife back.” Vlad smiled and gave it to her.

Editorial Reviews

“A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters—absolutely riveting.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger“Kiersten White at her absolute best. The epic story will thrill you, the Transylvanian setting will transport you, and the characters (especially the fierce, take-no-prisoners Lada) will capture your heart. Don’t miss it.” —Cynthia Hand, New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series  “Sweeping and epic, AND I DARKEN is a gender-bent take on history that gives us a fierce and brutal heroine, a fascinating time period, and a beautifully intelligent look at love, family, and power. I loved every twisty, bloody moment of it!” —Rachel Hawkins, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author  “As richly complex and glittering as the Ottoman Empire itself, AND I DARKEN is daring in its scope and brilliantly executed. The fiercely dark Lada is a razor-edged sword tempered in the blood of family betrayals and the fire of her own passions. I was instantly and utterly smitten. She haunted me long after I turned the final page and left me craving more.” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin series“A jewel of a book—a jewel embedded in the hilt of a blood-soaked sword. A brilliantly envisioned alternate history that is meticulously detailed but compulsively readable, this is a story I could not put down. I demand the sequel like Lada demands Wallachia!” —Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series"An intense, risky, passionate novel that dragged me through love and danger with the force of its heroine’s heart and the power of its hero’s faith.” —Tessa Gratton, author of the Gods of New Asgard series “Girls with teeth and priorities. I want to read this book forever.” —E. K. Johnston, author of A Thousand Nights★ "Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history…the novel is breathtakingly good.” —School Library Journal starred review★ "White deftly weaves historical fact into this complex concoction of love, war, politics, homosexuality, religion, loyalty, and friendship." —Booklist starred review"White excels at presenting an anti-hero who contrasts conventional female heroines. Readers expecting a typical love triangle tale will be surprised, for Lada’s characterization is executed in a far-from-stereotypical manner as White challenges femininity and explores the types of power women can wield. White also succeeds in crafting an accessible setting that brings complex historical figures to life."--VOYA***Praise for Kiersten White’s novels: Paranormalcy:“A fast, flirty roller coaster of a ride. I’m in love!” —Becca Fitzpatrick, New York Times bestselling author of Hush, Hush“The perfect blend of light and dark. I can’t wait for more!” —Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of Daughter of Deep Silence Mind Games:★ “A tour de force.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred  ★ “Brilliant.” —The Bulletin, Starred  “An exciting gem.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black “Sharp, heart-wrenching, and fabulously fun.”— Laini Taylor, bestselling author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times and Daughter of Smoke and Bone The Chaos of Stars:“Eloquent in its mixing of Egyptology with the experience of being a teenager . . . the character development, action-packed climax, intriguing family dynamics, and heartfelt romance will draw in fans.” —VOYA Illusions of Fate:“An absolute delight—a magical, sparkling, dangerous world with witty repartee and a romance that will light your heart on fire. Kiersten White’s best yet.” —Stephanie Perkins, internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss“This well-written historical fantasy has romance, suspense, a fairy-tale feel, and a great ending that will leave readers cheering.” —SLJ“Deliciously original in its intriguing plot and irresistible characters. ILLUSIONS OF FATE may be filled with spells, but it’s Kiersten White who is truly magic.” —Andrea Cremer, New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade seriesIn the Shadows:★ “An enthralling, page-turning gothic mystery infused with hair-raising horror.”—Booklist, Starred