Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Lada and Radu, adolescent daughter and son of Wallachian Prince Vlad Dracul, are hostages held by the Ottoman Empire to assure their father's cooperation with the Turks. Radu settles in and builds a life over time, while prickly Lada continues to dream of home. The Sultan's son, Mehmed, soon claims them as companions, and the three grow up together planning for his time on the empire's throne. This historical-romance trilogy opener is an engrossing tale of the Ottoman Empire during the early to mid-1400s. White deftly weaves historical fact (and the real-life figure who served as inspiration for Dracula) into this complex concoction of love, war, politics, homosexuality, religion, loyalty, and friendship. There is plenty of action, but the fully developed characters, who age from approximately 12 to 20 over the course of the book, are the engine by which this expansive story works. Details of court and military life emerge through these characters' interactions, never bogging down the plot, only enriching the tapestry created. The author has left herself multiple opportunities for exploration, and it isn't clear which direction sequels may take, but the next volume will likely be highly anticipated. Maps and back matter, including an author's note, were unavailable at the time of this review. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: White achieved best-seller status with her Paranormalcy trilogy and will get an extra push from the publisher's extensive marketing campaign. Expect plenty of demand for this one.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
What if Vlad Tepes, the historical inspiration for Dracula, had actually been a fearsome and brilliant teenage girl? That's the question raised in this alternate history, first in a trilogy. Set in the mid-15th century, first in Wallachia and then in the Ottoman Empire, the narrative focuses on Ladislav "Lada" Dragwyla and her younger brother, Radu (later known as the Handsome), who are sent by their father to act as royal hostages in the Ottoman Court of Sultan Murad. There, the ambitious Lada chafes at the limited options available to women, Radu converts to Islam, and both fall for the charismatic prince Mehmed, resulting in an awkward love triangle. White (Illusions of Fate) draws heavily on historical figures and events to craft this slow-burning tale, which focuses more on characterization and drama than on setting and detail; subtle commentary on gender, religious conflict, and geopolitical strife winds up overshadowed by churning romantic emotions. Given the historical bloodshed in which the novel is based, it comes across as somewhat sanitized, though grisly days seem likely in future installments. Ages 12-up. Agent: Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-White takes on Vlad the Impaler's story. Lada Dragwlya, daughter of Vlad and sister to Radu, loves her country of Wallachia more than anything. She wants to be able to rule her own life there, so she becomes vicious and strong. When she and Radu are held as captives by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, she wants nothing more than to protect her brother and return home, but she and her brother both fall for the future sultan, Mehmed. Lada earns her right to protect Mehmed by fighting with the soldiers and becoming a military leader, and Radu learns the secrets of Mehmed's court by converting to Islam, dancing, and going to parties; both siblings earn Mehmed's love in different ways. After Mehmed becomes sultan, Lada and Radu are faced with a difficult decision. Fiona Hardingham conveys perfectly the dangerous plottings of court intrigue, the dark and bloody events, and the romantic affairs through her tones and inflections. This first book in the series is more historical romance, with the love triangle driving most of the plot, but bloody murders also abound, as would be expected in a book about the Impaler. The story does not strictly adhere to the historical record, but Mehmed's obsession with Constantinople and Vlad's cruelty are both based on facts. VERDICT Give this to readers who enjoy twists on history with romance, particularly fans of Eleanor Herman's Legacy of Kings. ["The novel is breathtakingly good": SLJ 5/16 starred review of the Delacorte book.]-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.