This book and this series goes well beyond my expectations that I held for it. I am not sure what I thought would happen and how I would feel but every other chapter was so compelling that I was lost to whatever they were feeling. The character work here especially just….*chef’s kiss*. I’ll get into it more below.
Since this is the third novel in a series and I have not reviewed the other two this is just a quick and non-spoilery summary of these books and in particular, this conclusion. The books are basically historical fanfiction asking the question ‘what if Vlad the Impaler’ was a woman, instead of a man?’. So with that concept we follow Lada (Vlad) and her younger brother Radu, as they grow up in the royal family of Wallachia, are taken hostage by the Ottomans, and grow up to become….well, you know for at least one of them.
In ‘Bright We Burn’ the conclusion to this series we find ourselves following Lada as she carves paths of destruction and burns bridges with previously held allies. We also follow her soft hearted brother Radu, who has always desperately wanted love above all else. While being as vague as possible, I think what White has done here is absolutely amazing character work. While Radu is put in the difficult position of loving a sister while she commits atrocities and terrors, so are the readers. You are pulled along with her from childhood making her a character you deeply know and want to succeed even as she is pulled deeper and deeper into a darker path. These feelings are reflected in Radu himself, who loves his sister, despite everything and because of what good he can see in her. Its a very interesting blurring of morality and what you are willing to forgive for people (or characters) that you love.
I think that anyone who likes anti-heroes or books about dark and twisted women should definitely check out this series (the first one is a little slow, so do give it a bit).
On the lighter side of the novel and balancing out the dark and twisted feelings is Radu, who is so likeable that you cheer for his happiness the whole novel and can feel not guilty about it. You will love his journey here in this novel if you have loved him in the other books.
I was surprised in this novel that a previously important character took a backseat, but it became clear that the books have always been about Lada and Radu so the loss didn’t affect the story telling in any real way and was really a way for the book and the characters to grow up.
I listened to this book on audio through Audible narrated by Fiona Hardigham. This narration is really amazing and I listened to it through the entire series.