Now I Rise – Review

“Hell was a party.”

Is that the perfect opening sentence for this book, or what?!?! Alright party pirates, this is a sequel. Which means there may be spoilers for the first book, because that’s just how sequels work! I’m just a bookish girl, living in a bookish world, okay?

When Lada left, she turned her back on the only two men who meant anything to her. But the path to the throne is difficult and finding allies even more so. Instead of playing politics to gain her throne, Lada does what she does best, and wreaks havoc wherever she goes.

Radu, having chosen Mehmed over Lada, finds that life at the sultan’s side isn’t quite what he imagined either. In fact, he’s no longer by his side, having been sent to Constantinople as a spy.

Alone, surrounded by enemies, they each desperately need the skills of the other. They both will be faced with truths and deeds that will force them to ask themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice to reach the fate they envision.

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

Take everything I loved about Lada’s ferocity in And I Darken, AND RAISE IT ONE MILLION LEVELS!!! Oh, my dark hearted lovelies. This sequel is LIFE!!! White draws us deep into the world of conflict with Lada and Radu, having them face the darkest pieces of themselves while fighting to forge their paths through life.

One of my favorite thing about this series is how complex both Lada and Radu are. There are so many times I was shaking the book, wanting them to be decisive, or take action, or stop behaving in such flawed ways. But, that is also the beauty of these books. These characters are painfully human. They are subject to the same obsessions, doubts, desires, and emotions as the rest of us.

“Lada wondered what that must feel like, to know someone loved you enough to take everything you were. To wait. To hope.”

The journey Lada takes to fulfill her destiny is not an easy one. As much as I wanted her plot line to jump into full Impaler mode, I realize that this is the much richer path, and tells a more compelling story. There’s nothing I love more than a complex villain backstory, and while I’m not entirely sure if she’s the villain or the anti-hero, regardless, she’s fantastic and I find myself cheering for her even when she’s being incredibly violent.

Radu on the other hand balances out her vicious story. Where Lada wants freedom, to rule Wallachia, Radu only wants to be free to love. He longs for a quiet life with someone who sees him and is open to him in the same way. But as he longs for that person to be Mehmed, he is stuck in an endless dance of giving everything while receiving very little in return. At least, very little of substance or resembling anything he actually wants. His storyline is fairly heartbreaking and I hope for full redemption in the final book for Radu.

“He longed to be free of it all, to live among men seeing everyone as his brother, to view no one as his enemy.”

I loved that we see more than just the three main characters. Or, at least, that the scope of their world opens to include more people. Nicolae is one of my absolute FAVORITE characters! Of course, I adore Nazira and her determination to love Radu even if he can’t quite love himself. Like the main characters, they are flawed and very human, but I loved reading how they helped shape Radu and Lada in small ways throughout the book. It is endearing, heartwarming, and even a little heartbreaking.

As in And I Darken, bitter truths are discovered at the end of Now I Rise. Truths that both Lada and Radu will hopefully have to face fully in the final book. They were both so confident of their choices, of their futures, as youth often is. But this book reveals that life rarely works out the way we anticipate, or plan. These set backs, sometimes they makes us stronger, and sometimes they change us irrevocably. The question for Lada and Radu will be, which will it be?

And THAT ENDING!!! Oh holy black hearts!!! I was standing and cheering, for both Radu and Lada, though for VERY different reasons. They reach an end to their journey, while setting the course for a new one. Both will be difficult, and they will have to face even more about themselves and what they are willing to do to get what they want. I have no idea how this story is going to end, but I cannot wait to find out!!!

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