Book Review

Defy The Night

Defy the Night

  • Author: Brigid Kemmerer
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 14, 2021
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
  • Series: Defy the Night #1

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this ARC. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: death, murder, gore, violence

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster 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.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

I had requested this book from NetGalley after loving most of the Cursebreakers series, but shortly afterwards, I was informed by a buddy read partner that this was a DNF for her. The next day, I got approved for this, and approached the book with mixed feelings. By 10% of the way in, I understood what she was talking about.

While the characters and the world are well-built, they’re also extremely tropey and predictable. So is the plot. Tessa is the outlaw with the heart of gold, who constantly gasps and loses focus at the sight of a specific man without his shirt on. Never mind that she’s kind and brilliant and sweet and motivated, and well-spoken for a peasant girl. Her partner, Wes, has secrets of his own, naturally. 

The plot itself was fairly predictable, as you can tell from the lackluster gasp factor below. It’s a Robin Hood retelling, and that happens to be one of my favorite stories. I read the whole thing, because I did want to find out what happened, and I honestly hoped that it would become less tropey and predictable. Unfortunately, it didn’t. 

What I did enjoy was seeing the politics of the kingdom. I would have loved to see a map of the kingdom, and from my understanding, there is going to be a map included in the finished book. The author really did a great job with the way different factions in the kingdom interact, and how much pressure is on King Harristan and Prince Corrick to negotiate with them all to maintain a balance. In addition, the presence of a fever sweeping through the kingdom hit kind of close to home, and made me realize how dramatically it alters how people behave — hoarding resources and becoming different than they ordinarily would be. 

I did like how the story developed, although I kind of wished that it relied a little less heavily on the standard tropes. It read surprisingly fast for nearly 500 pages. The author has so much creativity and talent, and I found myself changing how I felt about some of the characters after seeing their POV. Overall, this was a good story with so much potential, but it kind of fell a little flat for me. Chances are, I’m still going to read the next book though.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 6

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