Lada Dragwlya was born into a world in which being female meant basically being property. Her father, the ruler of Wallachia, was disappointed and only hope she’d be beautiful to trade her off later in life. When Lada’s brother was born it became immediately clear he was the weaker of the siblings thus again disappointing their father. The pair were basically abandoned by both parents and raised by a nursemaid.
Lada and Radu are then treated as pawns in a vicious game of power and sent off to be raised in the Ottoman courts. Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia. Meeting Mehmed, the heir to another empire, the siblings find themselves becoming involved in a toxic love triangle.
I’m just going to start this review off again with a warning that yes, yet again I seem to be in the minority with this read so you may just want to ignore my opinion. I picked this one up because I have read Kiersten White before and had really enjoyed it. This novel however is something completely different and ended up really not being my cup of tea at all.
First, the story is incredibly slow paced for my taste. Virtually the first half of the book is the character building of the siblings, Lada and Radu and a bit of world building. Thinking it was going to be a read about a oppressed female finding her strength I really wanted to continue though and to see where it would go.
I suppose I should include a spoiler warning for anything from this point though since the story doesn’t really start until the second half of the book and normally I wouldn’t talk specifics that far into the story so if you’ve gotten this far and don’t want to know more details please stop reading. The story at the second half becomes about Lada and Radu relationship with Mehmed who is in line to become Sultan of his land. Now this of course means that we have siblings in a bit of a love triangle which certainly isn’t a favorite of mine. But I’d also like to add that it seemed a bit insulting to portray Radu as weak so heavily and then have him attracted to the same sex.
Now, if I were to ignore the fact that Lada and Radu are siblings falling for the same man I would hope that the man in question would be worthy of that potential triangle to begin with. But what we have is a ruler who has his own harem and fathering babies with random women who are basically his property because that’s what he’s expected to do. Just no. The modern equivalent of a player if there ever was one which in my opinion brings down any strength building of Lada in the previous chapters to this point.
Overall, I really didn’t enjoy this read and decided to rate it 2.5 stars although I do think Kiersten White is a talented author and some will fall in love with her writing. For me I spent too much time thinking this was too full of drama fitting daytime television talk shows to get too into the story. The very end of the book did rather peak my interest and I’d wished we’d skipped straight to the ending as it seems that book two may prove to be a more interesting story line.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.