Title: Defy the Night
Series: Defy the Night #1
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 14th, 2021 (Bloomsbury YA)
Synopsis: 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.
The kingdom of Kandala is in a precarious position. A dangerous and contagious fever ravages the land and the only cure, an elixir made from Moonflower petals, is severely rationed and available to only those who can afford to pay for it. The flowers themselves grow in only some parts of the kingdom, leading to political tensions between the sectors as King Harristan, aided by his brother Prince Corrick, the King’s Justice, attempt to maintain order with harsh punishments for any rule breakers. Meanwhile, Tessa, an apothecary apprentice who lives in the Wilds, is tired of the rich people in the sectors hoarding the medicine while the poor can’t even get a single dose, and so, accompanied by her friend Wes, steals Moonflower petals to make and distribute the elixir themselves. But there are rumors of rebellion in the air, and when the King’s Justice metes out his latest cruel punishment, it directly affects Tessa, making her desperate enough to sneak into the royal palace. What she finds there however, changes everything she thought she knew.
After the somewhat disappointing end to the Cursebreakers series, I will admit that I was a little hesitant to try this book. There was no need to worry though, as not only was this a very different type of story, but I also finished it in under 3 hours. It was such a fast paced and riveting read that I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I’ve never read a book inspired by Robin Hood before, and this was an interesting take on the concept. The setting of Kandala with a contagious disease plaguing the people certainly mirrors some aspects of our present day scenario, and with the layer of political turmoil added on top of it all, it made for a much more complex and intricate plot than I expected going into the book.
Tessa was a strong heroine and while I initially found her annoying, I grew to like her better as her arc progressed. Corrick was amazing and such a flawed and beautiful character (he actually reminded me a bit of Rhen once a little more of his backstory was revealed. The brotherly bond between Harristan and Corrick was wonderful and I loved how they trusted and supported each other no matter what. I think one of the things I liked best about this book was that Corrick was also given a POV alongside Tessa, making both brothers integral to the plot, and their supposedly cruel actions were not just chalked up to be the doings of a tyrant, but rather the lesser of evils they were always juggling – attempting to keep the kingdom together and providing medicine to the people while also appeasing the dangerous and powerful Consuls while not giving in too much.
The pacing of this book was swift throughout, but towards the end it just got dialed up to eleven and things moved so fast it was kind of chaotic and hard to follow. Also, I felt that the series of events that brought about the climax of the book were just a little too coincidental and convenient – what are the chances that all of those events would happen on that one specific night, in perfect time to start the rebellion?
Overall, I really enjoyed Defy the Night. That ending certainly left a lot of questions that need answering, and I’m curious to see where Tessa, Corrick and Harristan’s stories go in the sequel. I’m quite glad I decided to read this book, and would definitely recommend it!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: