'After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him? As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies?'
A brutal and thrilling historical fiction novel based on actual historical events, And I Darken the first in this series by Kiersten White was dark and gritty, a fantastic YA historical fiction novel. If anything Now I Rise, is darker, grittier, more tension filled and yes even more brutal. I loved it.
It is complete testament that Kiersten White can write a character like Lada and make me feel a connection with the oldest Dracul sibling. I adore Lada she is basically my feminist icon, and when I talk about ‘strong’ female characters in YA and literature in general, Lada is exactly who I mean. This is essentially a reimagining of Vlad the Impaler but in the form of Lada Dracul. A gender-switched historical fiction novel, I was hooked. In my opinion women written in novels, if they act half as brutal or in the same way as some men written in fiction they garner hate and dislike. I love that Lada is allowed to be every bit as bloodthirsty and mean as an actual Vlad the Impaler would have been. Lada doesn’t conform to the typical written ‘woman’. I am pretty sure if it were a male character who was like Lada nobody would have any hate for them whatsoever, but because she is female, some readers don’t seem to like her? As I said I loved Lada anyway, any female character that is bloodthristy and not afraid to what she wants in spite of everything will garner my affections. But it is obviously testament to Kiersten’s writing that so many other people love her as well. Lada demands sympathy from the reader, we connect with her and want her to succeed. For me, she shines out amongst so many other favourite characters from YA series.
Almost like two sides of the same coin, Radu is as moral and Lada is brutal. The moral conflicts of Radu's character, and the lessons he learns about life and love along the way are almost excruciating to read, we just want Mehmed to love him and ultimately for Radu to find complete happiness.
The ending was perfect and wrapped up the second novel in this amazing series. I adore reading Lada’s perspective and I do admire her for her determination to secure her throne. Also as an aside, I loved how she wanted to be known as the Wallachia Prince as opposed to a Queen or even a princess, it was actually refreshing having a character know they can break boundaries and call herself the Prince. Maybe one thing I would say is, because I love Lada and Radu so much, and I think they could do even better things together, I would like to see them come together and work towards a better Wallachia, I don’t actually care about or care for Mehmed that much at all, but I would very much enjoy the Dracul siblings to get a happy ending and be there for one another.
One of my absolute favourite quotes from Now I Rise:
....Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you. ....Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Overall, combined with the A* character development, and a better paced story in comparison to the prequel, Now I Rise secures itself as one of my favourite books of 2017. I actually can’t praise this novel enough: we have a badass murderess who for once in YA fiction actually does what she wants and goes out and gets what she wants for herself. I really enjoyed the character development, Lada has gone from a young woman with dreams to actually going out and getting what she wanted, without the help of a man or a new instal-love, love interest (hallelujah). Always just as brutal. Radu who is the complete opposite of Lada but wants some of her qualities to be able to fend for himself and a overall just a well-written novel that I will now recommend to everyone!
Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.