Lada is brutal and sometimes downright cruel. She’s a complex character, because she is also capable of love. As much as she picks on her ‘weak’ younger brother, Radu, when push comes to shove, she loves him like nothing else. The story is never black and white. The most important parts are in the nuances, which makes the story come to life and makes it able to impact the reader with honest emotion and unavoidable facts of life. Like the story, the characters are outlined with ink-black broad hard strokes and slowly layered with color and nuance of strengths and weaknesses.
Vlad the Impaler reimagined as Lada is one hundred percent human, which is more difficult to portray than it sounds. She is strong willed and she won’t accept, that because she was born female, her options are limited to marriage and her life controlled by the whims of men.
Men here either looked right past her as though she did not exist, or looked so hard that she knew they were not seeing her at all. It made her long for a weapon in her hands, for a crown instead of snarled braids, for a beard even. For anything that would make them see her for who she was.
She yearns to break free of the confines that apply to women at the time and to show everyone what she’s capable of. To make them respect her. I wish there were more females in young adult with this level of badassery.
The story flows like a wild untamed river. It’s violent at times, and it will slam you against a few rocks before landing you in a still pool for a moment until it drags you under again. It’s a story with more layers than an onion and it never becomes boring. Reading And I Darken is like experiencing alternative history first hand. The characters are brilliantly human with all the strengths and weaknesses that comes with it. The story sweeps you off your feet. It puts you at the center of a riveting tale of love, loss and the human condition.
Fire burned in her heart, and her wounded soul spread out, casting a shadow like wings across her country. This was hers. Not because of her father. Not because of Mehmed. Because the land itself had claimed her as its own.
It’s about fighting for what you believe in and accepting that nothing great can be achieved without sacrifices, while at the same time also focusing on being true to yourself. I cannot wait to read whatever comes next in this grand tale.