AND I DARKEN
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
When your friends tell you that the main character of a series is savage, naturally you pick it up. And Ladislav "Lada" Dragwyla is savage to say the least.
When Lada is born, her father is disappointed. A girl. What a disgrace. What misfortune. He gives her a masculine name that will never bring her honor, because how could she be anything more than a woman? Women are only good for sex and birthing children–preferably boys.
Lada exists to be more than just another woman. She's vicious, brutal, and strives to be the very best. She's manipulative, calculating, and absolutely brilliant. She might actually be a psychopath, too, but it's magnificent the way she does everything in her power to overcome the standard that's been set upon her based on her gender. She believes her destiny is to do great things for her country, Wallachia, and she'll stop at nothing. No one will get in her way.
When she and her younger brother, Radu, are handed off by their father to the enemy, the Ottomans, Lada vows to return to her country. She'll never be an Ottoman. She'll never convert to Islam. She'll break free of being a prisoner of the enemy by whatever means necessary – she just has to bide her time and be smart. And if that means being cruel to Radu to keep him safe, then so be it.
But when Lada meets Mehmed and begins to spend more time with him as she grows up, her ideals are challenged. She struggles with her beliefs and her growing love for the enemy.
And I Darken alternates between Lada and Radu's viewpoints (in third person). You get to know Radu, the caring, sweet, and beautiful opposite of his sister, Lada. You understand the savagery behind Lada's actions and the sadness in Radu's.
I loved how loyal and fierce Lada was. I loved reading about her struggle to overcome her circumstances while simultaneously learning the strength in being a woman. I loved that she never gave up and refused to compromise herself. If you're looking for a read that's compelling and brutal, And I Darken won't disappoint.
(FYI: This is not a fantasy novel. I'd say it's more closely related to historical fiction.)