Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Defy the Night
Brigid Kemmerer
Published September 14, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Defy the Night

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.

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.

My Review

I was super excited when I opened the package that had an ARC of DEFY THE NIGHT in it. I didn’t think I’d be on the list of bloggers who would get a copy (THANKS, BLOOMSBURY!), so I wasn’t even on the lookout for it. And yet! Yay!!!

So when I started reading, I was nervous. If you know me, you’re probably rolling your eyes. I’m always nervous when I start a book. If I liked the author already, I worry that the book won’t live up to my expectations based on how I felt about previous books. If it’s a new-to-me author, I worry that the book won’t be a good fit for me, and I’ll struggle to read it. So. Yeah. Apparently I’m just a nervous reader.

I think the first time I sat down to read, I read like 70 pages. When I quit, I wanted to read more, but I was really tired. I was into the story, had some ideas about where it was headed. (Yeah, okay, I peeked ahead. Did you forget already that I’m a nervous reader?! Ha.)

The second time I sat down to read, I read over 100 pages. The third time, I finished the book. (Something around 250 pages.)

I loved Tessa’s character– and I feel like Kemmerer always does this to me. She always gives us these bright, strong heroines with layers and grief and depth, and I love them from the first pages. I wasn’t sure I’d like Corrick. I mean, I suspected there was more to him than the brutal exterior, because hello, he’s the hero, but, I just wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

The story centers around a pandemic in a time of unrest and violence. Brief violent descriptions of death or torture or assassination attempts kind of pepper the whole book. I wasn’t expecting that for some reason, so the darkness of it kind of took me by surprise. They’re almost always brief descriptions, but there are a lot of them. I’m super sensitive to violence, so I kept worrying that it would add up to be too much for me, but I think because it’s usually so brief, I was okay reading it.

I completely bought into the premise and the characters, so I feel like I can’t even evaluate whether they made perfect sense– because I was committed to the story from pretty early on. The danger felt so real. The stakes kept getting higher. And the relationships twisted and turned and revealed new layers again and again.

I also liked that it didn’t end on a cliff’s edge. It had what I’d call a comfortable resolution (??) where, like, things felt completed without at the last minute introducing a new thread to tease us about the next book. So I really appreciated that! We have enough stress and anticipation right now. Haha. I’m excited about the fact that it’s a series, though, because I would definitely read more of this story world. I’m wondering, since it didn’t have a cliffhanger end, if the next book centers on different characters??? I am really excited to find out about that.

At any rate, I think readers who enjoyed A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN will find the same great storytelling and complicated characters here. I might have liked this one better than AHSFAB? I’m not sure. It might be my favorite of Kemmerer’s so far, but I’m a pretty devoted fan of LETTERS TO THE LOST, so that one is tough to beat. Either way, I loved it and recommend checking it out.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
I don’t recall any. Maybe mild profanity? If so it’s pretty infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between girl and boy. In one scene, the characters kiss pretty intensely.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Lots of brief violence. Assassination attempts or successes. References to torture. Descriptions of executions. Descriptions of battle or a group beating up one person. Explosions. Most of these things are brief, but there are a lot of them.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.