Parents' Guide to

Bright We Burn: And I Darken, Book 3

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Mature, bloody trilogy meets an absorbing, satisfying end.

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This blood-soaked trilogy stays absorbing and satisfying through a finale that brings out the worst and best in its two complex central characters. Lada as prince is brutal, ruthless, and clever, earning her nickname as the Impaler in a scene no reader wants to truly visualize. She's the tragic character you can see headed to her immediate end without the help of her brother, Radu. Though Radu and Lada are far apart for most of the book, they are always connected. Author Kiersten White, known for charming, lighter fare before And I Darken (Chaos of Stars, Illusions of Fate), goes deep in these characters, exploring the differences between Radu and Lada and the choices they make, often in response to the actions of the other. Radu's connection to his chosen family and his Islamic faith, his acceptance of himself as a gay man, and his reluctance to be a leader make him the perfect counter to Lada. Lada knows she needs her brother; he knows he can't escape her in the end.

All that family drama does not take away from the pace of Bright We Burn -- at least not until the very end where the wrap-up is a little long. The action is just as absorbing. Lada's forces are outnumbered but constantly outmaneuvering the Ottomans. Readers will feel conflicted about just who to root for. Radu is the "good" choice, but Lada is cunning and relentless. It's both shocking and fascinating to see what strategies she employs in her brutal campaign. The whole series fascinates, and it's hard to see it end.

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