Book Review: Now I Rise (Ava)

This is Ava’s review posted in 2019. There is another version written by Joanne back in 2018: to check it out, click HERE.

I’m trying to get through all of the reviews I’ve been meaning to do for, like, three months, in one afternoon. We’ll see how that goes.


Name: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 27, 2017


Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Book Cover Comments

I don’t 100% understand this cover but I want to say the arrow symbolizes Lada singlehandedly shattering the patriarchy? Either way, it’s a badass cover, the colors are gorgeous, and I would change nothing about it even if I had the opportunity to do so.

The Actual Review

As good as I thought And I Darken was…Now I Rise is better.

NIR is everything you want to see in a book: it’s tightly plotted. It’s fast-paced. The stakes are higher than ever. The characters are growing and learning more about themselves and each other. The world building is everything we need and more. And when it ends, you find yourself going HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON THE NEXT ONE (I actually had to wait for Bright We Burn and the wait was torture).

This book features the Queen of My Heart, Lada Dragwyla, doing everything she can to reclaim the throne of Wallachia (*sobs* She just wants to go home guys). But to do this, Lada will need to do something she hates doing: actually gather allies. That she can’t kill (or can she…). I was especially excited to read about Lada’s journey in this book, because we’ve seen her turn her back on pretty much everything she’s ever known, save for Wallachia. It’s clear that her one true love will always be her country, and nothing is going to stop her from sitting on that throne. Even if it means putting her in contest with Mehmed and Radu. Her POV remains consistently bloody, shocking, and angry–I love reading about Lada because she is an angry woman. Kiersten does such a great job of making sure that you like Lada, even though she’s not likeable–and that’s a good thing. I loved reading Lada grow as a character, particularly within the court setting. Unlike Radu, politics aren’t her thing, so she has to learn how to navigate them. She has to discover that you win some, lose some, and then she has to learn how to deal with her losses. She grows not only as a young woman, but also as a ruler, which is what her country needs more than anything. Plus, we get to see her really empowering other women; she seems like a character who would have disdain for girls who don’t want to wield swords, but Lada excels at making sure that everyone has a purpose, and she’s not afraid to teach girls how to be blood-thirsty (I love her, have I mentioned that recently?).

Shifting gears to Radu: I adore Radu. I want to give him a hug every time he appears on the page. By this point, the reader has definitely realized that Radu loves Mehmed, and Radu has…also kind of realized it. But he’s also starting to acknowledge that Mehmed is actually Kind Of Toxic And Manipulative; he spends the beginning of Now I Rise torn between wanting what’s best for himself and wanting Mehmed. Then, Mehmed decides to send him to Constantinople aka the LAIR OF THE ENEMY, because Mehmed wants someone on the inside sending him the details about all the ins and outs. Radu has no choice but to agree, so he and this dude named Cyprian (as well as Radu’s wife, Nazira, whom he married to help hide her relationship with her maid), set out to Constantinople. But there, Radu begins to fall for Cyprian (and who can blame him, Cyprian is a cutie). So readers everywhere are going “Finally! Someone worthy of Radu’s love and devotion!” and Radu is going “Why did I have to fall in love with Mehmed’s enemy?” Which of course leads to some angst for poor Radu. Angst makes me angsty (har har), but I absolutely adored reading about Radu in this book. He starts to become a lot less naive, and way more wily with his scheming; he begins to embrace the fact that he is basically a political mastermind, and even as he yearns for Lada’s confidence, he finds his own. His story of growth and camaraderie is such a beautiful one, that I wasn’t expecting the absolutely devastating ending that Kiersten leaves us with.

Kiersten, I thought as I finished Now I Rise, who gave you the right???!?!?!???!??

The ending will leave you shook, but don’t worry, because Bright We Burn is available now and you can snatch it up right when you’re done with Now I Rise.

The stakes are high, the plot is amazing, and the writing is impeccable. While I wished for more Lada/Radu interaction, everything else about Now I Rise completely exceeded my expectations! You will not regret picking up this series!

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