Parents' Guide to

Now I Rise: And I Darken, Book 2

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Bloodier, sexier, and more absorbing than the first.

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Readers of the And I Darken series will be giddy with the news that this sequel is even better, even more stab-all-enemies vengeful, even more lovesick-and-scorned than the first. Both troubled siblings Lada and Radu get about equal time here, alternating chapters, and both stories are absorbing. The contrast between how Lada and Radu handle themselves in the face of political turmoil and violence holds both threads together in a curious way. Lada misses Radu's charm and reasoning skills, Radu misses Lada's bravery. They both form alliances to compensate in Now I Rise, but readers know they will both succumb to their weaknesses without each other.

Author Kiersten White has many strengths as a writer. If you love character-driven stories, the reflections of Radu and Lada are very deep here. As readers, we know their flaws and their self-doubt intimately. If you enjoy action, the siege on Constantinople has the level of tactical detail and suspense you'll find in the Battle of Helm's Deep from Tolkien's The Two Towers. The only small criticism: Sometimes in this 15th-century world, it's harder to visualize places like Constantinople without extra help. More wide-shot place detail in the writing would be welcome.

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