Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
Bright We Burn is the third and final book in Kiersten’s trilogy about the female Vlad the Impaler, Lada. I originally picked it up as I have always rooted for crazy-strong and battle-ready YA heroines. The And I Darken trilogy promised that with Lada and it did not disappoint, but it also shows that side of her to an extreme. It was based off of history and I’m no historian in order to compare how truthful it was but, wow. Lada was ruthless. It is gory and she is an empowered hype train but the novel is also emotional, Lada has feelings, she experiences tough things and her character changes over time and within the final novel of the series. She was no cookie cutter tough girl.
Now I Rise did suffer a slight lull in the pacing I found, Radu stuck out more to me as a character who changed in that book. In Bright We Burn it seemed like almost every character reached a just conclusion. No one felt too open-ended unless it was done so specifically.
Radu continues to evolves as a character and as we reach the end of the book, it took a turn I did not expect, but also respected. Perhaps those who are familiar with Vlad the Impaler’s history knew what was to come but I am not so. The novel felt like it had to end like this (I’m talking about the last 50 pages) and I felt like I wasn’t cheated from an ending. It shows Radu and Lada on two opposite sides and…
Possible kind of spoiler ahead – basically me talking about how I felt.
It was almost sad to see Lada like that at the end. But it was also essentially what she wanted. The novel says as much.
I almost wanted to hate Radu because of the comparison to Lada and how I could identify with his happiness so much more by the end. Radu was a character that irritated me for being weak originally and still somewhat in Now I Rise. But I liked him by the end and was once again reminded of that by Bright We Burn.
I also found it funny how I wanted Lada to change and become someone almost more human at the end, but that was never who she was. – It was all so fitting.
“What sustains you?”
“The blood of my enemies.” – Lada.
I feel like we need more books like this. That changes norms in a way that almost feels fantastical but also somewhat grounded in history. I like how religion featured in characters lives and not a fantasy religion thats used to show how open and different a fantasy world is. These are religions that matter to characters and I dont see enough of that in YA literature unless its branded as religious.
I want to gush about this series in greater detail, something I will hopefully get to do in the weeks to come when I’m less likely to spoil those who follow this series.