young adult • historical fiction
“They are beneath our notice! They are less than the mud. You do not get angry at the mud for clinging to your shoe. You wipe it off and never look at it again.”
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.
I think historical is somehow taking a place in my heart. When I started the book, I didn’t have the slightest idea about what the story is about. I didn’t even read the blurb of the book before I started. It got my because of the cover and I was thinking this was a fantasy book. But when I read more and found out it was based on actual historical figures, I was so happy and dove into a little research.
The story was set revolve around the Ottoman Empire with Lada—girl version of Vlad the Impaler—as the main character. The whole first book told the story about the characters’ childhood until they grow, so at certain times there wasn’t much action and adrenaline type of situation (if that’s what you were expecting), but the story was well crafted with so many unpredictable plot twisting scene that for me did the same job as a good action scene. (Note that I read the book without much knowledge of the actual history).
The plot of the young Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conquerer was beautifully crafted and the author did do a great job of researching. And applaud to the author for there were major twist that made me nail-biting anxious and caught me by surprise.
Let her be strong. Let her be sly. She looked over the princess, fifteen, lovely and delicate as the first spring blossoms. Wilted and broken on the bed.
And let her be ugly.
The main character was the highlight of this book. Lada was a extraordinary anti-heroine. She reminded me of one of my favorite anti-heroine, Adelina from Marie Lu’s The Rose Society. If you liked her, you will totally fall in love with Lada. She was described as vicious and unattractive yet full of determination and in denial of their femininity. She was easy to fall in love with since she’s different from what most of YA’s characters are all about.
I love how the romance was build up in this book. It wasn’t instant, wasn’t even romantic and felt most of time. It just happened. Really smooth flowing romance that wasn’t felt harsh or weird. It was based after respect and years of being together. There was also a hint of LGBT in this book, which I found suited the story very well.
All in all, I loved this book so much. It was mainly historical but was written more to the modern YA fantasy tale. I’m so glad that I found this book and I cannot wait for more of the series.