Review: And I Darken // When Brutality Meets Diversity


Rating : 4 Stars

I have a very, very mixed feeling about And I Darken. I had so much expectation but turned out it wasn’t what I expected. It was a bit less and a bit more.

The plot

First of all, I’m gonna tell you this, in case you haven’t heard enough. This book is not fantasy at all, despite being shelved as ‘Fantasy’ on Goodreads. It is historical fiction, a retelling of (apparently) Vlad the Impaler. I knew nothing about it before and after halfway reading this book, I frantically scrambled to the internet to find out more about Vlad, Wallachia, and Ottoman Empire. It’s very political and it reminded me a little of The Winner’s Kiss.

This book is slow. And by slow I mean suuuupeeer slooooowww. I was expecting the book to be all action from page one but it was… systematic. It was boring and I slept about three times during the first half of the book alone. It didn’t really pick up pace, but it got more brutal and more action packed.

It’s the kind of book that slowly grew on me. 

characters ADSoM

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way.

I felt thoroughly deceived by those sentences. On my mind, I thought Lada Dragwlya would be soft and sweet but secretly evil and brutal. But no, SHE’S OPENLY BRUTAL. She’s so ruthless and feral and cruel and SHE SCARES THE LIVING LIFE OUT OF ME! I mean… who killed a man with teeth and bare hands? Barbarian, that’s it! Lada is a barbarian! I didn’t particularly like her because she was so naive and close minded when it comes to power. She resented being a woman because she couldn’t go to war. I mean… why go to war if there are other ways to control the situation? I love being a woman and I always, always love a cunning and manipulative woman 😛 but that’s beside the point.

Lada spent so much time resenting her gender that I was almost fed up with her. BUT, just like the book itself, her character slowly grew on me. She learned her lessons the hard way and I actually enjoyed her character development, despite still being cold-hearted until the end of the book :’)

Mehmed, on the other hand, stole my heart since the first time (or second) he made an appearance. He’s just so funny and determined and extremely likable! I love to see him having a vision for the future. Unfortunately, his position as Sultan somehow made him less and less likable to me. He’s naive, radical, and let’s be real, unfair to Lada.

I had a hard time liking Radu because he was such a crybaby but OMGGGG his character development is THE BEST OF ALL! I honestly enjoyed to see him making friends, standing up for himself and the people he loved and finding his own home. He was also getting braver in making his own decision. He’s also very… whispers manipulative. #Respect.

Despite my issues with the main characters, I found them extremely intriguing. I was completely curious about what would happen to them and their relationships were indeed toxic! So much lies and repressed anger. The side characters are also surprisingly interesting. There are the kind one, the cheerful one, the bitter and realistic, the naive, and the manipulative. I like Mehmed’s mother so much she’s the perfect image of manipulation ♥


But the best thing about this books is the element of DIVERSITY.

  1. Islamic culture & religion. I am a Muslim and do you know how often I read about Islam in YA? NEVER! I never did, and I never expected to either. It was a HUGE, pleasant surprise for me to see this book has this element. Reading about Kumal’s devotion and Radu’s fascination to Islam really warmed my heart. It’s heartwarming to see Islam was portrayed as something so beautiful and peaceful ♥ It was also fascinating to see Radu’s journey and conversion… I was born Muslim so it was never a choice for me, but seeing Radu chose Islam was just ♥♥♥
  2. LGBT. I almost never read books featuring LGBT (though I so badly want to) so this was refreshing. It was subtle AT FIRST but then we got to really see it. There were so many portrayals of it. A couple who have accepted and are happy with their lives, a man in love with a man who loves someone else, a man in love but desperately try to deny his own feeling… I was actually pleased to see this much diversity!
  3. The lives of the harems. I’m no stranger to this culture because it happened in my own country a long time ago, but it’s not featured often enough in YA. It was kinda sad for me to see those daughters being wedded ONLY to secure alliances with rival kingdom and then left to care for themselves while being ‘expendable’ to the Sultan himself </3
  4. Diverse setting. How often do you read books set in 15th century Turki? I mean, I didn’t even know where Ottoman Empire was. Even worse, I wasn’t sure where Serbia and Hungary really are 😦 I’m never good with history though (hehe) this book made me open my atlas to get a better understanding of the setting. It also made me learn about Ottoman Empire. Nothing is better than diverse fantasy! 😛



Have you read And I Darken? Did you enjoy it? Drop some comments and let me know what you think 😀 I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ 

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14 thoughts on “Review: And I Darken // When Brutality Meets Diversity

  1. I love your pictures! I read And I Darken. I agree that it was sloooooow. I felt like it lacked a discernible plot, like the characters were just going about their days without a real goal in mind. But like you, I got hooked on the characters and I will probably read the next book just to see what happens with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 😀 Omg you’re so right it’s like they’re just living their life before something actually happened :’) they’re SO interesting! I’ll definitely read the sequel too, otherwise I’ll be dying of curiosity 😛 thank you for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so incredibly excited about And I Darken – I like that it sounds more gory and brutal than most YA novels are, and I heard super-good stuff about the characters. And I love all the diversity you listed – especially that it mentions Hungary, because I happen to be a Hungarian. 😛 (Tbh, being such a small country, I don’t think I’d have any idea where it was if I wasn’t living there, which tells you a lot about my geography knowledge, or lack thereof.)

    I especially love how the Islamic culture and LGBT characters are present in the novel – both religion and diverse characters are, unfortunately, incredibly rare in Fantasy.

    Amazing review + lovely pictures. 🙂

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques


    • Yes the character is super brutal! Which I actually like hahaha she totally scared me though :’) oooh I feel bad for not knowing where your country is hahaha but geography or history are never my strength 😛 yes, I thought that was so cool, seeing that Islam (and almost all religion) are against LGBT, to see those two contradicting themes in the same story. Thank you! ❤


  3. This is still on my list. I have heard from several that it is not fantasy, but I was unaware that the story was a retelling of Vlad the Impaler! I love historical fiction and am pretty familiar with the horrific tales of Vlad III and his influences on the tales of Dracula so I am still pretty interested. I am concerned about how often I read that it is slow. I do not always do well with slow 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yessss it was gender bent and pretty twisty (from what I heard, I didn’t know the original story) yay it must be really appealing for you to read something you’re familiar with 😀 yes it was super slow for me and I much prefer fast paced book. But did you read A Darker Shade of Magic? ADSOM was also slow and it works really well for me! Thank you for stopping by 😀


  4. AHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH TOO! And it totally grew on me too. Like at first I loved it, and then it got rapidly slow and a little boring…but then the characters like somehow stole my heart??? And I am 10005% in love with them all basically.😍 Although I confess that Radu is my darling ultimate favourite *squeaks* But YES I loved the diversity, like especially of religion too! Because I feel like religion is often an overlooked topic in books? Which is sad. But also the fact that it was a retelling of a time in history I know very little about. i mean, YAY I LEARNT A LOT AND NOW I WANT TO RESEARCH ALL THE OTTOMAN THINGS.

    Also your photos = 😍😍😍 I love how you’ve set them up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG so sloooowwww! But yes the characters are super unique and precious <333 Totally overlooked! I'm so glad to see this book bringing out those issues! Me too omg I didn't even know anything about Ottoman Empire before I'm so ashamed 😦 awww thank you O Bookstagram Queen 😛


  5. So there’s no fantasy elements and still people categorize it like that? That’s messed up. Makes it sound like a diverse book about female Vlad is too fantastical to be classed as historical.

    Thank you for this. I’m excited to read it for so many reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not at all, I wonder why… but yes I think it’s the gender-bent, spin off version of Vlad (I’m still trying to research this whole thing) so it’s pretty interesting! Just don’t expect any magic though hahaha sure! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the book 😀


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