Book: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by: Kayla Halls

If you’re looking for an enthralling, fierce, beautifully written novel, look no further. And I Darken by Kiersten White is an action-packed historical fiction bursting with political controversy and feminism. Don’t let the words “historical fiction” turn you off. This is not a tale of medieval knights, nor a salute to the Mongols. Oh no, this novel is a twist on Vladamir the Impaler set in the era of the Ottoman Empire.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” is the phrase that best describes Lada’s, our heroine’s, life. After her father, the ruler of Wallachia, abandons her and her brother Radu in the Ottoman courts, Lada’s naturally fiery heart becomes a force of nature, unstoppable. Her ruthless behavior is all in pursuit of one goal: to return to her home. Her longing for it runs through every part of her, a flowing river in an Ottoman wasteland.

To achieve this, she does not let the men in her life rule her, despite the patriarchal society she is trapped in. Instead, she collects them as pawns. The only way for her to return to Wallachia, to rule her country, is to use the men in her life as stepping stones.

Now, don’t let this description of her fool you. Lada is just as prone to love as the rest of us. Her love for her homeland, her brother, and Mehmed, the new ruler of the Ottoman Empire, is all-consuming. However, Lada knows something the rest of us don’t: our love for others is not strength, but weakness. She is vividly aware of the role love plays in destruction, and she refuses to become another one of its victims.

This wild, bloody struggle that rages in her heart is put on full display against the backdrop of a political and religious battle that rages between the Ottoman Empire, and, well, everyone else.

Do yourself a favor. Read. This. Book. It stands apart from the endless torrent of boring historical fiction that bombards the Young Adult world. This book will make you want to travel back in time and kick some patriarchal butt-or just do it here and now.