Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer | Book Review

Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer | Book ReviewDefy the Night (Defy the Night, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Defy the Night #1
Published by Bloomsbury and Fairyloot on September 14, 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 443
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents' shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King's Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion--it's the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most--but it's still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King's Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it's even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

my thoughts:

Brigid Kemmerer has been making a name for herself in the young adult fantasy genre for years now. I’ve heard almost nothing but good things about the Cursebreakers series and Defy the Night has been garnering quite a bit of praise as well. After reading Defy the Night, I can understand the hype.

Defy the Night is the first in a new series (loosely based on Robin Hood) featuring a fantasy land being ravaged by plague. A young king and his brother are facing the prospect of revolution unless they can find a cure. With infighting amongst the leaders and whispers of rebellion from the greater population, Harristan and Corrick must find a way to unite the kingdom.

It’s a little eerie how similar the plague ravaging Kandala was to COVID-19. It made it very easy to relate to everything the kingdom was facing. The rebels were not without cause and while their methods were brutal, it wasn’t always difficult to see how they may have justified their actions. The leaders of the kingdom were quick to overlook the populations further from the city’s center. With less medicine and more death (be it from the plague or the guards from the kingdom), those citizens couldn’t help but look for a way to save their own lives. I would have liked to have seen more from inside the rebel camps and I’m hoping we’ll see a deeper look at them in future books. They had a very villainous introduction in this book and it would be nice to see a less brutal side of them.

The rebels weren’t the only ones approaching things in a rather harsh way. The king and his brother weren’t out to make friends when punishing the rebels. It was hard to see the good in Harristan and Corrick for a lot of the book. I hope that Harristan’s character is more fleshed out in future books. I only felt like I started to get to know him in the last 30 pages or so and I like to think there is more to him than meets the eye. Corrick, on the other hand, was pretty well-developed and much easier to sympathize with. Between him and Quint, I wasn’t completely against the royals and their companions. Quint is another one that definitely deserves more page time in future books. He’s quirky and smart and seems to be the brains behind many decisions in the royal household.

Out of all the characters, Tessa is the one that really takes the lead in Defy the Night. She’s smart, funny, brave, and kind. She is a little headstrong and doesn’t always think through her plans before putting them into action but she always has her heart in the right place. She’s neither rebel nor royal but finds herself right in the middle of both.

If you’re looking for romance, you will get it but don’t expect a ton of it. It’s a slow burn that promises more in future books. This book really helped to develop the friendship and trust that forms a very tentative new relationship.

The only reason Defy the Night didn’t get five stars from me is because I found it a little too predictable at times. The plot twists that should have shocked me could be seen coming from the very start. I don’t see that it detracted from my enjoyment of the book though so I don’t find it to be that much of a flaw.

Overall, Defy the Night is the start of a promising new young adult fantasy series featuring royalty, romance, intrigue, and betrayal. Readers will be left wanting more and eagerly anticipating the next installment from Brigid Kemmerer.

What are some of your favorite fantasy retellings? Let me know in the comments below.

if you liked Defy the Night, you might also like:

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  1. OOh nice! I have this one in my TBR pile! I have enjoyed her Cursebreakers trilogy and read the first book of the new spinoff and enjoyed it as well. I suspect I will like this one just as much! I love a good fantasy read and this one sounds like it’s right up my alley! Great review!