No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
Published: 28th June
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 475 pages
Rating: Must read
Read from 4th to 8th October
This actually has turned into one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s set in such a unique time and place that you feel so far removed as if it is a fantasy but it isn’t. I’ll be honest; this is one of my favourite parts of this book along with the political intrigue and court manoeuvring.
I’ve really been struggling with fantasy books lately because they just don’t have the level of complexity that I want but this book completely filled this well of desperation I have been stuck with. I absolutely love the premise behind the story. I don’t know much about Vlad the Impaler except the obvious so I found this a really interesting take on it.
The one thing that did surprise me is that this book feels like a prequel to the whole crusade and impaling malarkey. I really loved the characters. The author did such a good job building each of our characters as they aged and the relationships between them all that were constantly evolving. She also had a really clever trick of making it feel like we had a large cast of characters but instead the characters were just removed and reintroduced to the story. This meant that you were only dealing with a small subset of the characters at a time.
I have a couple of issues that I would like to address that seems to be common more commonplace in young adult, fantasy, and books in general:
- Why is our main protagonist not allowed to be religious? This could be due to a display of rebelliousness but why does this need to be the show of this? Surely there are plenty of other ways to show it, and this book is full of Lada running against the grain. Or it could be a more sinister reason that being religious is just a bad thing and authors need to make sure you know this. Either way I’m not happy about it because it’s become so commonplace to bash on religion (especially Christian religions) but at the same time people are crying out for diversity and wish for less westernised religions to be given the limelight. Now don’t take this as me bashing on diversity but I don’t believe we should bash on another group in search of this.
- Why is sexual preference being used as a plot point or plot twist? I have multiple issues with this in terms of the fact that I believe again in diversity but not in the sense that it should be this big revelation to shock and awe…. I like that it’s included and I would encourage authors to give it its place but not as a story telling device.
- Why to be a strong badass woman do you need to be comparable to a man? I pride myself on being a very confident, strong willed female so I may have issues with this due to my biased nature but I don’t understand why you have to sacrifice traditionally feminine qualities in pursuit of that. I fully accept that it can be hard to build up a character to harbour these qualities but it can come across that for a woman to be respected she has to be held to a standard of being a male. For this book it works and I don’t have issues with it in this storyline because it fits but it does cause me to raise the questions.
If you think I’m being overly critical and bashing then please tell me because that isn’t my gain and I would really value perspectives other than my own but these are just some of the issues I have been encountering in books as of late.
However, I seriously did love this book, my issues raised above are very minor points in this book and I never wanted to put this book down because it was just so interesting and different and I would strongly encourage anyone to read this. (You may require a strong stomach)