I received an advanced copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
First, I would like to insist on the fact that this is historical fiction. From what you've heard, you may think it is a fantasy YA book, but it is not.
Lada, a.k.a Ladislav Dragwyla, is the female version of Vlad the Impaler. I'm not that familiar with the real story but it was good to see this from a female point of view.
The story was full of betrayals, treasons, love and politics. A lot of politics (maybe too much politics for my taste). The plot was sometimes a bit slow and repetitive, I have struggled with some parts of the book. It is not really a quick read, it took me some time to get familiar with the world the characters live in which was very foreign to me. The settings was something I really enjoyed because I'm not used to reading books taking place in this particular time period and in this part of the world.
Lada was really interesting and unique. She is really strong and she does not want to show her feelings. She wants to be the strongest and show her father that he could be proud of her (which she can't be because she is a girl). She wants to be better and stronger than her brothers. However, I had some issues with this. Lada wants to fight and to dress as a man, which is something really understandable seeing how women were treated at this time in this society. But no matter how many times other women tell her she can have power even as a woman, she does not want to acknowledge it. That was a bit infuriating.
Radu was the character whose development was the most interesting to me. As a child, he is very weak and always afraid of his sister (who would not be?!). But then, as he grows up, he understands that strength is not the only thing that can give you power and he uses his other skills to gain power and connections. Even if he was not a character I particularly liked or related too, I love seeing how he developed throughout the book.
Mehmed was not my favourite one either. I did not like his views on faith and religion and I thought he uses his "duty" as a sultan as an excuse too often. It was annoying.
Religion and faith were also really present in the book. These are interesting topics that are not that much represented in fiction. I liked how it was dealt with and I learned interesting things about Islam.
The plot was great and well constructed. I only struggled with some parts where I was not sure what was happening because I lost focus at some points. It was a nice read but I could not stayed focus all the time and I read it quite slowly. I definitely recommend it if you like historical fiction and want to learn new things about this part of the world.