Title: Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Published: September 14, 2021
Genre(s): young adult, fantasy, romance
Read as: physical, hardcover
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.
I have a type. We all have a type. No, I don’t mean romantically, I mean book genre type. We all have that one particular type of book that sinks it’s teeth into us whether we like it or not. When reading that kind of story it is like indulging in your favorite food or activity. Sometimes we think, “No, not this time. I read that all of the time! I need something else.” But then we end up picking up that exact type of book anyway.
Yeah. For me, that genre is fantasy romance. I can’t get enough of it. Add in a bit of forbidden attraction, some violence, and a hefty amount of denial and you have yourself a winner!
To be completely up front with you, I very nearly did not read this book. Kemmerer’s previous ya fantasy series, Cursebreakers, had its hooks in me completely. The first two books in that trilogy, A Curse so Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken, wrecked me in the best kind of way. Then…then came the third book. It was so fantastically, earth shakingly bad that I had decided in a fit of rage to not read any more from Kemmerer. Yes, that was a bit dramatic of me. I stand by my feelings at the time. I was severely disappointed.
Of course, I am also a sucker and ended up preordering Defy the Night anyway and, oh boy, am I glad that I did! This book sucked me in from page one and did not let me go.
First of all, our main female character, Tessa, was wonderful. She is highly intelligent and capable of helping those people in the poorer areas battle the disease that has been ravishing the population for years. The problem is that the medicine needed to help those people is hard to come by and theft of the plant needed to make the medicine is punishable by death. However, Tessa sees her neighbors and community suffering and does what she can to help them without getting herself killed in the process. She is also good with a blade but doesn’t use it unless absolutely necessary and while having a backbone of steel Tessa also has a good heart. Yes, she makes mistakes and missteps but uses her brain to make the best of the situations before her. Overall, she was a good YA character and I liked her very much.
The story also drew me in. Yes, I am well aware that everything about it sounds cliched, I’ve read the synopsis, too, you know. But, the synopsis doesn’t do this book justice. While it is absolutely a ya fantasy novel it feels better put together and more thought out than most that I have read. There was a life to this book that has been harder and harder for me to find the last year or so. Am I getting more picky? Perhaps, but I also feel like that the genre has been so flooded with hyped and over promoted books that finding the real gems has been next to impossible.
We have an interesting plot, evil bad guys hiding in plain sight, a threat that blankets everything, a romance with a twist that absolutely rocked me (right around page 140), and one of the support characters is up to something fishy but I love them anyway. My only (and minor) complaint is that at about the 3/4 mark of the story there was a scene that went on just a little longer than I felt that it should. It lasted just long enough that I began to feel very slightly bored. That was it. One, single complaint.
I loved this book. It is an example what YA fantasy romance should be (at least for me). The writing was vivid, the characters interesting, and the story made sense. At no point did I feel lost and fumbling. If you enjoy the genre then I highly recommend you picking this book up. I can’t wait to see what Kemmerer does with these characters in the next book in the series!