Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lads is out to punish anyone who crosses her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder if he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople–and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned the unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence–but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself–but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.
Now I Rise picks up directly where the previous book, And I Darken, left off. Lada (the female version of Vlad the Impaler), is set on fulfilling her destiny to become Prince of Wallachia, leaving her younger brother, Radu, behind with Mehmed. The two siblings are separated during the entire book and this not only effects their relationship, but it further shapes them into the leaders they will become. In the first book, you saw how Lada’s brutal childhood at the hands of her father, made her a fierce, determined and courageous potential leader. In this book, all those traits are still visible, but her ruthlessness ultimately takes an even darker turn, resulting in her committing some truly horrific atrocities. You can see she’s not completely heartless by some of the relationships she has with those who are loyal to her. But by the end, she cares nothing about sacrificing innocents if she believes it’s in the greater good. Even some of those who have remained steadfast in their support, begin to question her. Lada is so fixated on her goal that she doesn’t realize she’s turning into someone far worse than her father. Seeing her transform is cringe-worthy at times, yet utterly mesmerizing. Meanwhile, Radu, who was always the lightness to Lada’s darkness, is facing a crisis of conscience. Still suffering from his unrequited love for Mehmed, he becomes a spy for him to aid in the conquest of Constantinople. The longer he’s there, the more conflicted he becomes over whether he’s doing the right thing. His anguish is heartbreaking, and the things he does changes him in many ways by the conclusion. I didn’t really care for Mehmed in the first book, and nothing in this one has changed my mind. Actually, I dislike him even more. He’s a manipulative, power-hungry ruler who has no problem using or betraying the people who care for him, as both Lada and Radu learn. He may be charming and charismatIc, but he continues to leave me unimpressed. There are quite a few secondary characters that stand out as much as the three main characters, and add interesting layers to the already complex story. Now I Rise is even better than it’s predecessor in terms of world-building, character development, and action. Kiersten White has my deepest admiration for her ability to bring history to life. She may veer away from total accuracy at times, but that doesn’t take anything away from the story. While this is technically a YA trilogy, due to the complexity and brutality of the story, I would suggest this for older teens and adults. You also definitely need to read these books in order because otherwise you’ll find yourself completely lost. The ending of this sequel leaves no doubt that Lada, Radu, and Mehmed are on a collision course, which has me eagerly anticipating the final book, which frustratingly won’t come out until next year. In the meantime, if you’re an adult who usually doesn’t read YA, but you like historical fiction, I cannot recommend these books highly enough!