Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Book review: And I Darken

AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White
3 Stars
Not for me, thanks.

The imagery, the language, the feels… The writing in this book is fantastic, laced with beautiful lines and natural dialogue that hold a weighty punch. Unfortunately, the heavy politics means this series is not for me, but I would definitely read more from this author.

Lada is a fascinating main character based on a gender twist of Vlad the Impaler (if you’re wondering who that is, google it – the context is kind of necessary to read this book). I wouldn’t call her psychotic just yet, but she’s definitely strong-willed and ferocious. On the other hand, her younger brother is beautiful, likable and smart – the complete opposite of Lada. I thought the reversed gender roles works really well.

Without giving too much away, the romance in this book felt intense from every angle. Radu’s love is pure and beautiful whereas Lada is much more complicated. Both intrigued me, and I found the idea of love in this book both complicated and beautifully diverse.

With all those compliments so far, you might wonder why I didn’t rate it higher?

My first quibble was with the style of the story. We experience Lada and Radu’s most important memories from birth to early adulthood, which I quite liked at first. The narrative soon became too quick and distant, with months and years flying past as we flitted from one disaster to the next big choice. I wanted to linger, to get to know, to feel closer to the character’s decisions, but there was no time. The story kept gathering momentum, building up to a defining moment, only to skim past with another blank gap for the reader to fill in themselves.

As the action scenes dwindled into heavy conversations, I lost interest. There’s a lot of political chatter, and even discussions about religion, and that’s just not what I expected when I read the blurb.

I’ll admit, the historical era and the area landed entirely in my blind spot, and I don’t recommend it as your introduction to the Ottoman Empire. While I love being thrown into new world, or lessor-used historical settings, I found this one to be more about the political context than the imagery of the setting and the feel of the time. I can only assume if I knew more about the Ottoman Empire I’d be able to picture it better, but the author doesn’t cater for this. The use of language made me feel, but it didn't help me see.

So there’s a lot to love in this, but overall, it’s just not for me.

Source: Big thanks to the publishers via NetGalley.com