Book Review

Defend The Dawn

Defend the Dawn

  • Author: Brigid Kemmerer
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 13, 2022
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
  • Series: Defy the Night #2

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Children’s for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, blood, mention of torture

To save their kingdom, they must embark on a dangerous journey…

The kingdom of Kandala narrowly avoided catastrophe, but the embers of revolution still simmer. While King Harristan seeks a new way to lead, Tessa and Prince Corrick attempt to foster unity between rebels and royals.

But the consuls who control the Moonflower will not back down, and Corrick realizes he must find a new source for the lifesaving Elixir.

When an emissary from the neighboring kingdom of Ostriary arrives with an intriguing offer, Tessa and Corrick set out on an uncertain journey as they attempt to mend their own fractured relationship.

This could be their only chance to keep the peace and bring relief to the people of Kandala, but danger strikes during the journey to Ostriary, and no one is who they seemed to be. . .

I was on the fence about the first book in this series, Defy the Night. It was a bit heavy on the tropes, and it was fairly predictable, but I was willing to continue reading the series to find out what happened. I did enjoy the politics of the world, and after living through a pandemic, it wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to see how easily society can break down when faced with an unexplainable illness. 

Tessa is becoming more of an actualized character rather than a collection of tropes. She’s now torn between two worlds, wanting to help people but forced into life at the palace to try to create change on a bigger level. However, it doesn’t seem to be making the changes she had hoped for. It’s also forcing her relationship with Corrick to change as well, and not for the better. Instead of having the freedom to act on their feelings, they’re pushed to hide how they feel, so that it doesn’t interfere with her professional integrity. 

Corrick is working to change also. Instead of hiding behind his mask as “Cruel Corrick,” he’s realizing that he has to become more approachable and actually work with his people, rather than making them fear him. However, it’s also causing new issues, as his kingdom is facing rising threats and a new opportunity may not be all it appears to be. I loved his character growth in this book, and can’t wait to see where his arc takes him.

“Choices never seem like choices when the world only offers us bad ones.”

As Tessa and Corrick board a ship offering a potential new avenue for growth and opportunity, they have their reservations. They’re a great pair, since Tessa is all naïve and trusting, while Corrick is all cynicism, and they’ll have to work together to find a happy medium. They are able to discuss rationally a lot of the time and see each other’s point of view, even if it takes some time for the words to sink in once the emotional impact of the conversation fades. 

The plot twists weren’t as surprising as I’d have hoped, and a lot of them were visible from a mile away. However, a few of them did blindside me. In addition, for a book that is nearly 500 pages, I read through this extremely quickly, and it’s a fast and enjoyable read.

I’m actually glad that I did continue reading. This story was more enjoyable that the first book, and that was partly because I was more invested in the characters, who became more introspective and willing to grow in this book, and partly because it relied less on the same tropes as the last book. Although it was still a little too predictable for my liking, I still found myself liking the read and I’m looking forward to the next book.

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: 7

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