Welcome a new breed of YA heroine
Series: The Conquerors Saga
Author: Kristen White
Publisher: Penguin Random House, UK
My ratings: 5 out of 5 stars
Released: 7th July, 2016
A And I Darken, is one of those rare breed of YA stories that makes you sit up and pay attention. Set in Eastern Europe in a time where not many books are set, it is more of a re-imagining of historical events than actual fantasy.
Imagine if Vlad the Impaler was not a man but a woman. How would the events unfold. We have Lada who is brutal, hard and vicious. And a delightful main character. I love this trend of dark heroines which brings a new flavour of heroines who are not just kick ass but are harsh and not afraid of embracing the darker side of life.
However, this story is not simply about Lada, but also follows her younger brother, Radu who is everything that Lada is not. Their relationship between them is convoluted and complex. Their love hate relationship had me on tenterhooks. Bring in Mehmed. Another complexity to these three peoples relationship and it is a recipe for the most festering, gritty and tortuous relationship I have ever read.
The story was a car crash I could not stop reading. The fierce wild Rada opposite the delicate, sly Radu set in an ever changing world of new religion and kingdoms, their abandonment shaped them as children and love and hatred kept changing them as adults.
This book explored so many aspects of life in the 500 years ago. What it means to be a woman? Is being physically strong the only way you can be powerful? Can you fight battles from court rooms? And what does it even mean to be an emperor? We had Rada hating her gender and trying her best to remove any form of feminity and loved that she discovers that sometimes being a women is how you fight your battles. While Radu was struggling with his own identity, his faith and his loyalties.
I hated the self-righteous Mehmed and I cannot explain the details without giving spoilers. What I can say is that this is one of the must read YA releases this summer, pushing the boundaries of YA story telling which will have you transfixed to the pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Penguin Random House, UK