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Bright We Burn

Review

Bright We Burn

BRIGHT WE BURN is the twisted, explosive finale to Kiersten White’s New York Times bestselling And I Darken trilogy. With gritty, sometimes unlikeable and ultimately human characters and a breakneck plot, BRIGHT WE BURN is the perfect conclusion to this brilliantly dark series.

Lada’s ruthless reign as prince of her beloved Wallachia has earned her relative stability and the blind adoration of her people. But with few allies, uncertain borders and Wallachia’s continued existence as an Ottoman vassal state, Lada is still not satisfied. When Ottoman sultan and Lada’s occasional lover Mehmed sends an envoy to negotiate peace, Lada sends them back in boxes. With no other choice, Mehmed and Lada’s brother Radu know they must go to war against her. Radu is still reeling from his experiences at the siege of Constantinople and worried over the whereabouts of his wife Nazira and Cyprian, the man he loves, but he knows he has to stop his sister before more lives are lost. No one is safe as Ottoman troops advance on Wallachia and Lada and Radu approach a conflict that might very well be their last.

"With gritty, sometimes unlikeable and ultimately human characters and a breakneck plot, BRIGHT WE BURN is the perfect conclusion to this brilliantly dark series."

I’ve never liked an unlikeable character more than I love Lada. This gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler is stubborn, selfish, cruel and single-minded, but also passionate, determined and confident. As a girl born into nobility, Lada was never destined for a normal life, but the choices she’s made have earned her as much power as any man. Reading BRIGHT WE BURN, it’s easy to see how Lada changes, not only from book one, but throughout the book itself. In the beginning, she believes herself to be alone and finds strength in it, but only after she truly loses everyone does she learn how many people she really had and is she able to be the leader Wallachia needs. Lada also learns to find help in relationships that have changed. Though readers no longer hear from Lada three chapters from the end, it is clear that she has become the leader she always wanted to be while still retaining the grit that first made her prince.

Lada isn’t the only character who experiences tremendous growth throughout this series. Radu, while still the same sweet boy readers first met in AND I DARKEN, has changed in remarkable ways. The Radu of BRIGHT WE BURN is a loving, personable man who’s confident in his diplomatic abilities and comfortable with the family he has chosen for himself. He balances the sensitivity that plagued his childhood with his newfound ability to face whatever challenges he meets. Radu is also an overtly religious character, which is interesting for young adult. White deftly reconciles Radu’s sexuality with his Muslim faith, creating a character who believes in the universality and purity of love in all its forms.

Like its two predecessors, BRIGHT WE BURN is a merciless, fast-paced and ingenious novel that packs a serious body count. With complex, fascinating characters based on historical figures, political intrigue and plot twists around every corner, BRIGHT WE BURN is the perfect ending to White’s most unconventionally fascinating series to date.

Reviewed by Maggie Dow on August 14, 2018

Bright We Burn
by Kiersten White