And I Darken by Kiersten White

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Short Summary: A fictional retelling of Vlad the Impaler, with a gender flip. Lada is a brutal princess. She bides her time in the Ottoman Empire with her brother, Radu, until she can return home to claim her throne. 

My Review: Pleasantly surprised, though not at all what I was expecting it to be. I’ll be honest, I preordered this one for its beautiful cover and was hooked by the first few pages of the sample. 

I love the idea of gender swapping Vlad for Lada. She’s ruthless as a child. However, as she gets older there’s a bit of a lull where her character starts to change because of a potential romance building. I think this tenderness takes away from the unlovable Lada, who the readers are hooked by in the beginning. I’m hoping book two brings back her fiery passion, the unrelenting princess–since, in the end, she’s decided to sacrifice the one thing that might have tamed her. 

I didn’t enjoy Radu nearly as much as Lada, though I did appreciate the feelings he develops for a man close to him. I thought this conflict added great tension to the story and pushed Radu to be braver and stronger. 

There’s nothing I didn’t like about the author’s writing style. However, there were times the pacing slows, and I skipped full paragraphs of drawn-out explanations or backstory, which I would have cut out completely. 

Overall, the writing is fantastic, the story is unique, the title is badass and so is the main character. I’ll be purchasing the second book (and repurchasing this one since it’s full of sand and salt water from the beach).