I decided a couple of years ago that I can no longer claim to dislike historical fiction novels. Pretty much every historical fiction novel I’ve read in the past few years has been among my favorites of that year. Now I Rise is no exception. I really appreciate Kiersten White’s attention to historical detail. This series inspired me to research the incredibly interesting history of the Ottoman Empire and Vlad Dracul and Radu the Handsome.
SUMMARY: This book alternates chapters between Lada and her brother Radu. At the end of And I Darken, Lada Dracul, daughter of Vlad II of Wallachia, has failed to take over her destiny: the Wallachian throne. And now, after leaving behind her brother Radu and best friend Mehmed, Lada has no allies. But Lada still has Bogdan, her childhood friend, and her army of loyal Janissaries. Meanwhile, the Sultan Mehmed sends Lada’s brother Radu to Constantinople to serve as a spy.
REVIEW: If you enjoyed And I Darken, you won’t want to miss Now I Rise. I LOVED this book just as much as I loved the first one! Lada and Radu are so well-drawn as characters, I feel like I know them both. Lada’s fierce viciousness contrasts with Radu’s heartbreaking quest for peace, and I adore both of them.
This book is not meant for those with a weak stomach. Lada Dracul will ultimately become Vlad the Impaler, and yes, there is plenty of impaling happening in Now I Rise. There is also lots of war violence, as well as rape, concubines, slavery, and plenty of murder. The 1400s were violent times.
Can I just gush about Radu for a minute? I’ve read reviews where readers complain that Radu is whiny or full of angst. Radu is certainly more sensitive than Lada, but I absolutely adore him. If this book ever becomes a movie, I don’t think I will go to see it. I have this certain picture of Radu in my mind that I don’t want ruined. He is awesome, as is his clever wife Nazira.
I do have a complaint about the front covers. And I Darken has two front covers: one with a purple flower and one with Lada with war paint on her face. Now I Rise also has two covers: one with an arrow and one with a fierce-looking Lada. The Lada covers are by far my favorite, but it seems those are not available in hardcover. I want those covers for my library, but if I want a durable hardcover, I have to go with the flower and arrow covers. Lada is hardly a flower, and the arrow is just boring compared to the face-painted, hooded Lada. Booooo!
THEMES: Vlad the Impaler, Romania, Ottoman Empire, 15th Century, war, feminism
THE BOTTOM LINE: Now I Rise is thoroughly-researched and features well-drawn characters, particularly in Lada and Radu. A must read for fans of And I Darken.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Oh, we will totally be getting this. Historical fiction, especially 500+ page historical fiction, can be a tough sell in my library, but And I Darken has gotten some checkout. I do promote it, particularly with my stronger readers. I can think of three specific girls who have raved about it and will no doubt read the sequel.
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 4/5–some of the war scenes drag a bit
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5–best for strong readers; adults will love it, too.
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild; damn, hell
- Sexuality: medium; one sex scene–not descriptive; homosexual characters
- Violence: very high; murder, rape, war, impaling, beheading
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild; some drinking at political events
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