2 stars · 3 stars · book review

book review: And I Darken + Now I Rise by Kiersten White

I just came back from vacation in Netherlands and Iceland and I felt like updating my blog here because I have a backlog of books I never posted reviews for here.

This is a joint review of And I Darken and Now I Rise by Kiersten White, books 1 and 2 of the Conquerer’s Saga. I preface this with saying that I’m in no way a Romanian + Ottoman history buff. I’m basing this review off of what I thought about the storytelling + writing. I will also say I love Kiersten White’s writing style and I don’t know the woman, but she seems pleasant and I enjoy her twitter account. What I think of the book and her characters doesn’t reflect how I feel about her. I don’t even know why I’m prefacing a review post with this because it’s been done before. In this particular instance I’m really disappointed with the work even though I love the author’s writing style. I think it’s entertaining, but I didn’t find the story itself to be like that.

And I Darken: 2.5 out of 5 stars | GR review

Now I Rise:  2 out of 5 stars | GR mini review

And I Darken booktube review

Now I Rise booktube review

And since I’ve gotten this far in the series, of course I’m going to read Bright We Burn. I do love poegranates and the cover has got me in its clutches.

AND I DARKEN REVIEW

2.5 Stars

Ok this shit was entertaining BUT

Pros:
Awesome cover
– A quick read. The writing is very easy to get through.
– I liked Radu’s character, though both he and his sister are OBSESSED WITH MEHMED for a reason beyond my understanding. He had a brain and a sense of self preservation, which I like. He’s clever and motivated by his own interests, but sometimes he’s just too obsessed with Mehmed and wanting to belong. I liked his chapters way more than Lada’s
-Lada didn’t choose to stay in the end.
– Nikolae was funny.
– Tohin have Lada some smack talk.
– the ending was pretty entertaining
– gosh darn it I want the sequel just so I know what happens I hate myself for it.

Mixed:
– Lada – somewhere I see the attempt for a good character in Lada but it was bogged down by you know it! MEHMED OBSSESSION. She supposedly is a tactician but she doesn’t ducking pause to think about how to use others good graces for her benefit??? I know that’s Radus game but Lada should at least objectively understand how this works if they had the same education even if it isn’t her modus operandi wtf.

Cons:
– I can’t divorce how historically inaccurate I know this is. BUT AS A WORK OF FICTION, I still can’t give it a 5 star. That being said, based on the story alone I give it 2.5/5.

“Mouth to mouth combat” LOL

– They straight-washed Mehmed. Historical Mehmed was thirsty for Radu, man. I rolled my eyes so hard when Lada was like “he can’t love you the same way” to Radu. I. DON’T. BELIEVE. YOU. FOR A HOT SECOND, GIRL. Don’t get me started about how Mehmed tried to seduce Radu and Radu stabbed his leg and ran up a tree to escape Mehmed and wouldn’t come down until Mehmed limped over and gave a damn good apology. Where was that??? I would have greatly appreciated something like that more than “Lada and Mehmed had mouth to mouth combat”. Radu, I’m so sorry your fictional sister stole your historical man!

– Lada just… calm down. She has no chills but at least she eventually gets SOME CHILL by the end. I will admit she does seem human by the end I like that but god she was insufferable most of the time.
– fake woke feminism – god I know what Kiersten White is TRYING to go for with Lada, but she just makes her so extreme. This girl came out of the womb feral. There are people out there with tragic childhoods that dont turn out this way.

– Both Lada and Radu are OBSESSED with Mehmed like he has a magical penis or something! Mehmed wasn’t even properly established as a person/character to me so it was so annoying to see him be the plot device that ties the siblings to the Ottoman Empire for so long. Mehmed this Mehmed that Mehmed Mehmed Mehmed. STOPPPP. This book milks that and I’m sure they’re still not done milking it!

– the political intrigue wasn’t Intriguing. I don’t give a shit about any of the groups mentioned and their conflict. It is definitely more of a Lada and Radu character centered story and the external plot drives certain revelations out of them due to circumstance. I honestly didn’t care what the outcome of all these battles and power moves were.

What I had problems with in my preview still stand. I honestly don’t care if Kiersten White isn’t Romanian or whatever, there are ways to write the same story idea in a way that doesn’t shat on real people, culture and history. As a story based on historical events, this book drags with how much angst Radu and Lada have over Mehmed. It really does consume the story. Their characters get explored, but I had a problem with Mehmed not being a character. Rather he is a plot device. Don’t get me wrong, it got really entertaining by the end. I feel like this could have been stronger if they toned down the Mehmed obsession and made him a third protag (as in an actual character!!). Idk I have mixed feelings in this one.

****************

Pre-review:

Ok so I’m currently reading rn and I am conflicted because I’ve previously read about how historically inaccurate this book is and if I were put in the position where someone published a book that shat all over my culture’s history/people/…well … culture, I’d sure as hell be pissed (see the trashfire that is Tiger’s Daughter and I’m sure a fuck ton of other books). The first 20 pages aren’t bad, but again it’s hard to divorce myself from the fact that I’ve seen many reviews addressing the historical problems presented here.

Useful reviews to read (though there are many more!):
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

EDIT:
@ pg 130: Oh lord American authors… just don’t have a good track record with portraying Eastern Europe and Asia in YA and beyond LMAO. Not surprised, just disappointed. This is full of fake feminism (even for white feminist™ standards), racism, misrepresentation of Romanian history, Islamophobia (like even on a basic level how tf does Lada memorize passages in the Koran yet still have such a shit grasp of how Islam works?) and includes a straight-washed Mehmed. I smell an element of fake-wokeness and I’m not even done with this book yet.

I’m not even a historian or a linguist and even I can tell *something* is wrong when Lada says she speaks ‘Wallachian’… and also her name is Ladislav instead of Ladislava! Sort of similar to how Bardugo made it Alina Starkov, not Starkova!

I could be wrong but if Radu and Lada are KIDS they shouldn’t be fasting the entire day for Ramadan… and also they aren’t even Muslim (tho Radu converts. I’m not sure if this is accurate to history. I could also be convinced he had to convert bc of circumstance? Oh well). PLUS Lada has her period… so she shouldn’t be fasting ANYWAY. And… Lada says Mehmed worships the prophet BUT LOL I don’t think Muslims worship the prophet … at least not in the way Christians consider Jesus to be the Son (part of the Trinity). Again. how tf did Lada study the Koran but lacks the basic fucking understanding of anything? Am I just reaching here???? ‘Cause even as someone who is neither Christian nor Muslim, I was like what is this???? How???? Was this put on a page???? Where was the research?????

************************************************

NOW I RISE REVIEW – 2/5 stars.

 I honestly did not have much to say about this one besides that it was very similar to the 1st. I did make a video review for this book linked above before the cut.

How does so little happen in a book where so many things happen? Jfc Kiersten White. This was a quick read, but a boring repeat of the last book with less Mehmed and more war but still quite a bit of Mehmed. The man has Meh in his name. I still can’t get behind a story that never properly established him as a character and just went with it. Also everyone who holds Radus hand for more than two seconds has gotta be gay, is that how the 15th century gaydar is like…

Again, Nicolae with an E is the saving grace of this book.

Ok even a quick read of new world encyclopedia can tell me that Hunyadi wasn’t the son of peasants so why tf is he described as one in this book? Among other historical inaccuracies that are described in detail by this review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

Lada makes some stupid ass decisions it’s like YA can’t help itself when it comes to a character seeking power and when they are on the quest to it or after they get it, they’re just like ehhh fuck the government I don’t need to know how it works or give a shit about all of my people! Just the ones that listen to me!! Eyyyyyy. Listen to Nicolae with an E!! He’s spouting some good truth about how you literally shouldn’t slaughter your countrymen unless they actually done some bad shit.

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3 thoughts on “book review: And I Darken + Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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