Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for the gifted copy of Defy the Night
During the pandemic one of the genres I’ve begun to read more and more is young adult fantasy – when I found out that Brigid Kemmerer had a new series coming out, I slid straight into Bloomsbury’s DMs (thank you for the ARC!). Defy the Night has it all: Robin Hood style bandits, a mysterious plague (relatable), and a strong-willed heroine.
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.
The one thing that I really, really appreciate in a fantasy novel author is the ability to quickly build the world without slowing the start of the story. The author of Defy the Night excelled at that – the world was built while the plot began to pick up speed. This quickness in establishing the world helped me get more invested in the story and the characters that much faster. Seriously – I read this super quickly and just could not put it down.
I really enjoyed reading about the kingdom and the dynamics between the different regions and between the rich and poor. When rebellion began sparking, I felt like I understood the motivations for it. That’s where this book shines – by the time uprising began, it was easy to feel empathy for the people rising up, regardless of the violence they caused.
Wes just might be my new favorite fantasy lead – he was dashing and mysterious and chaotically good. I loved his and Tessa’s Robin Hood duo vibes – they were a dynamic duo who routinely stole medicine from the rich and redistributed it within their own impoverished community. Tessa, on the other hand, was one of those quietly tough characters. She had violently lost her parents, but still had the strength to move forward and help her community any way she could, regardless of the risk to herself. As the book progressed, her strength of character only grew, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this series has in store for her.
Defy the Night is a very strong start to a brand-new fantasy series from Brigid Kemmerer – and I can’t wait for the next book. Between the quick world building, strong heroine, and dynamic Robin Hood style hero duo, this book had me hooked quickly and I simply could not put it down. I’ll definitely be rereading this one sooner than later. 5/5