A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Now I Rise is the second book in the And I Darken series by Kiersten White, author of the popular Paranormalcy trilogy. Set in the Ottoman Empire (15th century) and offering many details about the period, this story is based on the life of Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula), had Vlad been a female named Lada instead. Now I Rise is even more mature than the first book, with a really high body count and more sexual content. It's best for high school readers on up (and not a bad read for parents, either). Violence includes dozens of assassinations, and thousands of soldiers killed in the long siege of a city. During the city's ransacking, innocents too old or infirm to be sold as slaves are killed, and women are taken to be raped before being sold. Gore includes corpses defiled. There's a report that the women of an entire village -- many of them pregnant -- were raped by the local landowner, with a mention that the landowner's assistant had been offered "seconds." Characters have consensual sex a few times with mild details about oral sex and a man gaining new skills in this area. Soldiers are heavy drinkers of wine on more than one occasion. Throughout Now I Rise there's an ongoing debate about when to fight, when to surrender, and when to show mercy. Weighed heavily in the debate are people's ideas of the righteousness of their religion over others, and whether showing mercy creates enemies later. The book takes the path with the most bloodshed and least mercy most of the time, with very obvious negative consequences.
What's the story?
In NOW I RISE, Lada has left with her band of soldiers to find her destiny: the throne of Wallachia. Her quest proves much more difficult without her more charming brother, Radu, at her side. Instead of finding allies in Transylvania, an assassin from the governor of Brasov is sent to kill her. To show she means business, she heads to Brasov to return the favor, leaving destruction in her wake. That attracts the attention of a most unlikely ally: Hunyadi, her father's murderer. Meanwhile, Radu begins to regret his choice to stay with Mehmed, the sultan. He stayed to be close to Mehmed, to win his affections, but he almost never sees him anymore. Mehmed insists that Radu pretend that he's no longer in his favor and keeps him at a distance. That way Radu doesn't attract attention as he works on secret projects in preparation for an attack on Constantinople. Taking the city is Mehmed's ultimate goal. After Radu helps Mehmed amass an armada, he hopes to be back at his side. But Mehmed has other plans for Radu that take him much farther away. He's headed all the way to Constantinople, in fact, as a spy. And when the siege begins, there is no more dangerous place he could be.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Now I Rise. Is it over-the-top or suitable to the story and period setting? How is the siege of Constantinople different from or similar to epic battles in other books you've read?
How is Lada different from other women in her time?
Will you read more in this series? What do you think will happen to Lada and Radu next? How do you think Lada's life will resemble that of the infamous Dracula?
- Author: Kiersten White
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Princesses and fairies, Brothers and sisters, History, Misfits and underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: June 27, 2017
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.