Book Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Defy the Night
Series: (Defy the Night #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: ★★★★★


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.

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.


This is the second YA Fantasy book of the year to remind me of why I fell in love with YA to begin with. It never tried to be more than it was, which was a well thought out story about love, people just trying to do their best to survive and how it costs nothing to be kind.

Tessa was the biggest cinnamon roll with an even bigger heart. Every night she would risk her life to bring those who lived in her sector just a bit of the cure that they couldn’t afford. She offered what she could to others while expecting nothing back in return. The girl was smart as a whip, not one to be taken advantage of in the political game she’s been thrust into. I liked seeing her hold her own at court and how she helped to upend the kingdom, making them see things in a new light.

Corrick is unfortunately very well known and not in a good way. As not only the King’s brother, but his Justice, he’s done some not so great things to keep the people of Kandala in order. Thrust into power at such a young age after the assassination of their parents, both him and his brother were give quite a crap hand. Sickness has spread throughout the kingdom with only a single antidote and few sources to obtain it. People were dying and desperate, doing anything any everything to survive. I felt so bad for Corrick, his situation seemed impossible and I truly don’t know how else they could have had things play out. Political games were being played and no one was winning, especially not him.

The romance was perfection. From the start you could feel the tension and it definitely delivers. I wasn’t quite sure where it would go since we had two love interests, but it didn’t disappoint. We have some YA approved steamy moments that never got too hot, but nonetheless had me begging for more.

Defy the Night had a few twists and turns that kept me guessing. Right from the start I thought I knew how it would play out, but Kemmerer got me good. The writing was fantastic with the perfect pacing that made me not want to put it down. It combined all of my favorite classic fantasy elements of politics, rebellions and of course romance into a new an exciting series I can’t wait to continue.

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