Defy the Night is the newish YA fantasy series from Brigid Kemmerer, the author of the A Curse so Dark and Lonely series. Although this first book came of in September 2021, I’ve heard relatively little about it. I think some of this has to do with it being somewhat about a pandemic and people not wanting to read about that but it seriously is not like COVID at all and except for a few people coughing, it’s really not about the sickness so if that’s what is putting you off, I wouldn’t avoid it because of that.
I had it as the next book on my TBR many times and then just never picked it up. But I finally got around to it when I was on my last hold for the library (which means I’ve had it checked out for 30 weeks….oops). I can’t believe I waited so long, I LOVED IT!!
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 loved this! Why are more people not talking about this book? Why did it take me so long to pick it up? This was such a fun read. OK, those are my initial scattered thoughts but if that doesn’t convince you to pick it up, here’s the details:
I loved the characters. Corrick is such a fascinating character, I really liked all of the layers to his personality. He doesn’t remind me of any character I’ve read about before which was so refreshing. Tessa was in some ways a pretty standard YA female fantasy character but she had more depth to her. Some of the other characters, like Harristan and Quint, were also really well done for side characters. I really cared about all of the characters by the end.
It’s unusual for me to read a fantasy with no or little magic and like it. I guess it is still fantasy, it definitely has the fantasy vibes but except for this flower that can protect you from a mysterious illness, there is nothing fantastical. It is still set in a castle and there are crossbows and swords but the castle also has electricity. It was definitely a unique setting and world for YA fantasy but it worked really well.
The plot itself was really interesting. I guess you’d call most of it court politics but that sounds boring and this was anything but boring. There’s a romance and a mystery plus court politics and several action scenes in between. It’s a fairly fast paced page-turner of a book. Again, I have nothing to compare it to which is one of the reasons I liked it so much, it’s different and well done and it’s hard to ask for anything more.
I loved it and can’t wait for the next one. Maybe it’s good I let it sit on my shelf so long, only 3 months to wait for the sequel!