Feb. 13th, 2017

juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
Title: And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga Book 1)
Author: Kiersten White
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Published: Listening Library, 2016
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 480
Total Page Count: 204,720
Text Number: 627
Read Because: recommended by literarymagpie, audiobook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: When Lada and her brother are ransomed to the Ottoman empire, they meet the future sultan and become intimately familiar his nation's brutal politics. But Lada has only one goal: to use what she learns in preservation of her homeland, Wallachia. And I Darken is a reimagining of Vlad the Impaler with a female protagonist, an intimate, slow story with thorny gender issues, queer representation, and a nearly spiritual sincerity. I'm reminded distinctly of Nicola Griffith's Hild, as both books are about gender-nonconforming female protagonists loyal only to their homelands and both are slow burns, although this is the less skillful novel—but the payoff is that the more delineated narrative is also more approachable. Watching this cast grow from children to adolescents and charting their intimacies and troubled motivations is supremely satisfying, and it also sets up for a sequel. And I Darken is unpretty and passionate and it impressed me; I recommend it.

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