Now I Rise: Kiersten White

★★★ ½

The Conqueror’s Trilogy: Book II

When looking for a book to read on Halloween, I chanced upon And I Darken, the first novel in this alternative-history trilogy. It was a fitting choice, as the series follows the fortunes of the fierce Lada Draculesti. In our own universe, her male alter ego would go on to make an indelible impact on history and Gothic legend; and Lada looks set to make similar waves in her own world. I discovered the second novel in the series at London Film and Comic Con and devoured it during the course of a quiet afternoon.

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And I Darken: Kiersten White

★★★½

The Conqueror’s Trilogy: Book I

Finding myself without a book to read on Halloween, I tracked down something with appropriately dark credentials. This recent novel, set in 15th-century Wallachia and the Ottoman capital Edirne, promised to do the trick. Aimed at a young-adult audience, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable alternative history, full of harem intrigue, scheming pashas and unspoken desires. And, at its heart, is a plain, vengeful, vicious girl named Ladislav or Lada Dragwlya. In another universe (our own), where Lada was born a boy, she was named after her father Vlad and grew up to become known as the Impaler and to spawn a whole genre of blood-soaked legends. Based on this first novel in a planned trilogy, Lada herself looks set to make an equally indelible impression.

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