# of Pages: 459
Time it took me to read: 5 days
# of pages a day to finish in a week: 66
Rating: 5 out of 5
(Author’s Note: the review below is actually for both Now I Rise (the book I read this week), and And I Darken, it’s prequel, which I read last year. There are some light, unfortunately necessary spoilers for the first book in this review, but there wasn’t a lot I could do. If you absolutely cannot abide by spoilers of any kind, I’d skip this review.)
In a world that continues to crumble and darken each day, two siblings must rise. Lada Dracul has chosen to leave her only brother, Radu, and the man she loves, Mehmed, sultan of the Ottoman Empire. She has known since she was a child that her native country of Wallachia is her destiny and that she belongs on the throne. With a group of ex-Ottoman soldiers at her back, she leads the charge to take the throne she knows she deserves. But the roads are paved with blood and blades, and Lada must make decisions she never anticipated to emerge victorious.
Radu was a vulnerable child, always the opposite of his fearsome sister. Now that she is gone, his loyalties lay only to Mehmed, the sultan he loves but knows he can never have. Given a dangerous mission outside the Ottoman capital, Radu travels to Constantinople with his loyal wife Nazira, who use each other to shelter the true nature of their affections. Their companion is Cyprian, the charming cousin of Emperor Constantine, and during Radu’s time in the city, he must abandon everything he has ever known in order to survive.
Hi guys, sorry this is posting late this week. I started a new job yesterday and things have been hectic for the last little bit.
Anyway, this book feels a little bit tough to review. Only because it’s a sequel, and I read the first book over a year ago, so it was never reviewed on this blog. I really don’t want to post any spoilers for the original book, though I kinda had to do it in the blurb above. So gosh, I guess I’ll give a quick summary of the first book below, and then talk as much as I can about the sequel so that it makes sense.
The first book, And I Darken, is a historical fiction piece that turns Vlad the Impaler, one of history’s most famously bloodthirsty characters, into a girl, Lada. It tells the story of her and her younger brother, Radu, a gentle soul, as they are forced to leave their native land of Wallachia to be royal hostages to the Ottoman Empire. This first book tells of the coming of age story of Lada, Radu, and their friend, Mehmed, a son of the sultan by a concubine, unlikely to ever see the throne. With Lada’s ferocity, Mehmed’s cunning, and Radu’s personality, the three are a deadly team that do what they must to survive in the beautiful but dangerous court of the Ottoman Empire. But hearts will be broken and loyalties tested when it turns out that three children who were once a team grow into adults who have very different paths.
I’m not doing a particularly good job of really describing what these books are about, but I’m really trying to be vague and non-spoilery. These books a set in a rich, well-researched historical background, but are so fantastical it’s almost impossible to believe that much of the historical narrative, at least, is true. I have to admit, this isn’t a historical period that I know much about, but I had a morbid fascination with Vlad the Impaler when I was about fourteen and did a lot of research on “real life” vampires. I wish I could remember the name of that great book I read that had short histories on real vampire myths and historical figures that were feared as vampires, like Vlad the Impaler and Mary Bathory.
The book I’m actually trying to write about, Now I Rise, is just as well written and researched as its predecessor. Lada is a wickedly fun character to read about, as bloodthirsty and deadly as her historical inspiration. She somehow manages to maintain her humanity, however, which is an astounding feat. Radu is sensitive from the start of his life, but grows useful politically as he ages. In Now I Rise, Radu becomes trapped in the city of Constantinople during the Ottoman siege. Radu has to abandon all his morals and qualms and sensitivities if he is to survive. Each must learn to think like their sibling, which Radu manages with some success, and Lada tries, but struggles with. Anyway, not only those two, but all other characters, such as Mehmed, Constantine, Cyprian, Nazira, and Bogdan are rich additions to the story of the Dracul siblings.
The only thing that I have to say against this book, and it’s not even necessarily a negative, is that it’s really heavy. I found the sequel easy to read, but that was only because I knew the characters from the first book. And I Darken is dense with historical references and backstory, but it’s all very interesting and important, it just took me a little bit to get through because, as someone who a) doesn’t read a lot of historical fiction, and b) knows very little about this period in history, it was a lot.
But I absolutely recommend this series, 100%. It is a wonderful reimagining of a fascinating period of history. It’s a rich, heavy, decadent bite of literature, but absolutely worth the slightly slow, foggy feeling that accompanies it.
Sorry again about the delay, I hope to be timely this week. See you next time!
If you liked Now I Rise, or And I Darken, try: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud