Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher and NetGalley for review
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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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.My thoughts:
This was an interesting fantasy book. Not one with vampires (and suggested by having a female dracul) but one with political intrigue and war. I know that not everyone likes the more political kind of fantasies, but this one was different. It really was more of a character book. It was about a what if kind of question. What if the Vlad Dracul we know in history was really a woman?
The story is a bit slow and winding but we are captivated by it's characters. The most captivating is Lada who has to fight against everything around her just to find some modicum of freedom which is not afforded to females in either culture she encounters. She finds a way to carve out something for herself but she does not stop there and her continued growth throughout the book is what makes this interesting. She is not the only one to bloom slowly into adulthood. Radu, her brother, also goes through tremendous change. While Lada is the fist of the two, Radu is the diplomat. Each has their strengths and each try to find themselves through that strength. Mehmed is really what draws them continually together and apart at the same time. He is their glue and their hammer. It really does become a toxic triangle and it works.
While this is a story of personalities it is also about being seen. We all want to be seen in some capacity and while not everyone is aware of this fact, all major characters in the story are painfully aware. They also find that being seen is not always to their advantage, but it doesn't make them want it less. It seems it is at the heart of their growing pains.
I give this book 4 stars. I enjoyed how the characters grew and learned who they were and what they wanted. I really loved the ending which really pulled at the heartstrings and skillfully sets us up for the next book without a cliffie. It is satisfying and keeps us wanting more. I highly recommend this book not to just YA readers but to adults as well. It is dark, gripping, but filled with hope that some will get what they seek, but also promises of darkness to come.