Jun 14, 2016

Blog Tour: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Top Ten YA Books That Use Genre to Tell True Stories

My favorite genres are the ones that use non-real-world elements, such as sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, and historical fiction. When done right, it’s exactly those larger-than-life elements that tell the truest parts of the story. I wanted to examine how good people get to the point where they can commit atrocities in the name of their goals. Using a gender-swapped, notorious historical figure made an odd sort of sense. I could explore everything I wanted to, but on a grand, lavish scale. And even though And I Darken is set in the 1400s, the parallels to today’s political and cultural climate are inescapable. I hope it feels visceral and familiar, in spite of the centuries between us.

In that vein, I selected ten books I feel use their genre to tell the truest, most timely stories they can.

1–2. Alexandra Duncan’s SALVAGE and SOUND

Both of these books are sci-fi, set in the future where space travel and even colonization are a reality. SALVAGE explores a culture in which women are literally trapped and made weaker than men, and gracefully but honestly looks at one girl’s difficult path away from her polygamist space-cult. (It really is more nuanced than “polygamist space-cult” makes it sound, I promise.) SOUND, a companion novel about her adopted younger sister, looks at issues of slavery and corporate greed while flying around outer space and having adventures on one of Jupiter’s moons.
3–5. Melina Marchetta’s LUMATERE CHRONICLES

This series has PTSD, war crimes, sexual violence, refugees, politics, relationships, and responsibility to country over self, all with a smattering of magic subtle enough to make this read feel almost historical rather than fantastic. These are intense but beautiful books that don’t shy away from what decades of violence breed in entire generations of people.

6. Kristin Cashore’s BITTERBLUE

Bitterblue is also about a whole kingdom suffering from PTSD after the rule of a deranged, depraved, magically evil king. This book is entirely about how to heal and move on by openly engaging with your past rather than trying to hide from it. Another book in which heightened abilities and magic are by far the least important elements.


The author refers to this as a “syphilis fairy tale,” which I find perversely delightful. Though the royal court she focuses on never existed, it feels like historical fiction. Politics of power, the absurdity of monarchies, vulnerable women, and those same women coming together to subvert the systems of oppression around them makes for a fantastic read.


(Okay, okay, let’s all take a moment to sing the horribly cheesy theme song from the old movie adaptation of this book. And then I’ll remind you that the author was so embarrassed by the movie adaptation that he didn’t let them attach his name to it.) This book is gorgeous and brilliant on so many levels. The first half deals with the danger of losing your imagination. But the second half looks at how we can lose ourselves so deeply in fantasy that we actually lose ourselves.

9. David Levithan’s EVERY DAY

Levithan writes with such beautiful, gentle compassion. In this book, the main character, A, wakes up every day in a new body. Levithan uses that high-concept hook to allow his readers to experience multiple lives in a stunning exercise in grace and empathy.

10. Franny Billingsley’s CHIME

Apparently I like books that use magical elements to explore the nature of guilt and PTSD! Magical elements allow the stories to be framed in ways that keep dark, heavy themes in a way that is dislocated from reality, and therefore more palatable. Chime is set in a pseudo-English countryside where supernatural and fairy-tale creatures are a fact of life, Billingsley smartly confronts guilt, repressed memories, and the ways we fail to save those we love the most.

So: What are your favorite books that use magic, sci-fi, or history to tell stories that feel true?

CLAIM THE THRONE. Visit AndIDarken.com to order now!


And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times. Visit Kiersten online at kierstenwhite.com and follow @kierstenwhite on Twitter.

AND I DARKEN Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, May 30th through Friday, July 8th (Mondays through Fridays)

Monday, May 30thIcey Books, Review
Tuesday, May 31stBookiemoji, Guest Post (Character Profiles)
Wednesday, June 1stSeeing Double in Neverland, Review
Thursday, June 2ndAlexa Loves Books, Playlist Post
Friday, June 3rdAwesome Book Nut, Review

Monday, June 6thJessabella Reads, Review
Tuesday, June 7thThe Eater of Books!, Top Five Roundup
Wednesday, June 8thAcross the Words, Review
Thursday, June 9thPandora’s Books, Sneak Peek for Book Two
Friday, June 10thTales of the Ravenous Reader, Review

Monday, June 13th: A Midsummer Night's Read, Review
Tuesday, June 14thThe Irish Banana Review, Top 10 Guest Post
Wednesday, June 15thStories & Sweeties, Review
Thursday, June 16thJenuine Cupcakes, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, June 17thThe Soul Sisters, Review

Monday, June 20thWinterhaven Books, Review
Tuesday, June 21stTwo Chicks on Books, Q&A (4-6 questions)
Wednesday: June 22ndThe Book Swarm, Review
Thursday, June 23rdRead. Sleep. Repeat., Top Five Fantasy Books Kiersten Loves to Re-Read
Friday, June 24thPlease Feed The Bookworm, Review

Monday, June 27thComfort Books, Review
Tuesday, June 28thFitshun, Q&A
Wednesday, June 29thAddicted Readers,Review
Thursday, June 30thLindsay Cummings, Movie Casting Post
Friday, July 1stRabid Reads, Review

Monday, July 4thReading Teen, Review
Tuesday, July 5thYA Bibliophile, Guest Post (Trip to Romania)
Wednesday, July 6thCarina’s Books, Review
Thursday, July 7thMundie Moms, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, July 8th:  My Friends Are Fiction, Surprise Post!


  1. Yessssssssss! I want to read this one. Great post!

  2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Amazing story, brilliant background. Great read.

  3. I haven't read any of those! Great review.
    Visit my blog BookYap


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