Lada the Impaler

After spending nearly two weeks avoiding getting my heart burnt by yet another literary love dawdling, I got my act together and finished Kiersten White’s And I Darken.  It wasn’t until I was four chapters into it’s sequel, Now I Rise, that I realized that it would be a good time to write a review.  Because nothing says fun like gathering your thoughts and emotions in order to write a non-spoiler-y review of four hundred eighty-four pages that just about murdered you.

Abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada and her brother Radu are pawns in a vicious game of politics and life.  Lada has always known that being ruthless is the key to survival while Radu longs for a place to feel safe.  Fighting to stay alive, Lada bides her time, plotting vengeance for the day she will return to her homeland, Wallachia, and claim her birthright.  Enter Mehmed: the defiant, lonely, and future sultan looking for a friend.  As the three of them grow closer and the years tick by, a dangerous and toxic triangle forms between them, straining under the pressures of war, politics, and deceit.

From the nerve-wracking build up to the constant worry that one of them was going to die, And I Darken reminded me of Game of Thrones, only with teens.  I cried and shrieked so many times watching the trio develop into the unique and driven bad asses they are, and I’m holding my breath with anticipation whilst devouring the sequel.

I’ve finished Now I Darken.  Whoa.  I’m still in shock.

I rate both books five out of five bleeding stars.

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The Unofficial Grand Orchestra

Since I started reading manga steadily in 2012, I’ve discovered so many unique story lines and wonderful, warped, and wonderfully warped characters.  I’ve reread Kaori Yuki’s Grand Guignol Orchestra series four times since then, so I thought it was about time to write a review of the five-volume series.

Heading up the unofficial Grand Orchestra, Lucille and his companions Kohaku and Gwindel travel from town to town, entertaining the masses, making money, and facing their toughest audience.  Guignols, people infected with a deadly virus that turns them into zombie dolls, ravage the world.  Intent to stop the guignols before they destroy humanity, the Grand Orchestra roves the countryside, killing guignols as they go.  Unbeknownst to most of them, the town that they’re about to enter is full of secrets.  Deadly, tragic secrets.

I was thoroughly disturbed the first time I read Grand Guignol Orchestra but as I reread them over the years, I saw how horribly twisted and painfully human the characters were.  The series was definitely one you’d have to read a second time to fully understand because there were so many intricacies that would be difficult to appreciate the first time around.  Filled with more heartache and creepiness than I bargained for, Kaori Yuki has managed to pick my emotions apart in five volumes.  The short story at the end of the fifth volume had me biting my nails and reading through my fingers.

I rate the series as a whole four out of five stars.