Leta’s Book Review: Defy the Night


I hate that this book ended. I rarely get book hangovers – I pride myself on being able to jump from one book to the next without more than a few minutes or an hour to absorb what just transpired. But Defy the Night was a completely different story. I not only dreaded the ending but was terribly sad when it came. Not because of the content, mind you, but because the amazing chemistry between the two main characters had to end. I can see that this is the beginning of a series with phenomenal potential, but I don’t want to wait. And part of me doesn’t want to read much else in the meantime.

As so many other younger readers these days, I’m attracted to reading about rebellions and strong heroines. Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer has both and interconnects them in such a natural and powerful way. Tessa Cade is a young woman who steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy elite to give it to those who can’t afford the limited supplies of elixir. It’s well-known by every citizen that Moonflower petals are the most precious commodity: they’re the only thing that can hold the fever that’s ravaging the population at bay. With the mysterious masked Wes at her side, they distribute what they can of their stolen elixir in the early hours of each day.

Tessa has the mindset of a true Robin Hood: she steals from the rich to give to the poor. But instead of money and food, she uses her father’s knowledge as an apothecary to learn what she can about recreating an elixir for her people. I loved her passion for saving who she can. Wes’s character is similar, though he becomes so much more complex than Tessa could have ever suspected.

Prince Corrick is the other point of view character. As the King’s Justice, he carries out horrific “justice” that leads to his nickname “Cruel Corrick”. His character development over the course of the novel was done delicately and purposefully and though I would have liked a bit more development, I can see that it hasn’t had the proper chance to happen yet. I think any more development wouldn’t have been justified by the events of the novel.

I’ve heard this book described as enemies-to-lovers, which is an immensely popular trope in young adult fiction and fantasy right now, but I almost disagree. It isn’t a classic enemies-to-lovers, so don’t go in expecting that. Instead, know that you’ll be getting a great twist on that trope. It’s new and fresh (to me) and I can’t wait to see the further implications of it.

 I would recommend Defy to Night to lovers of YA, low fantasy, the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard, and of course, the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer. I believe that Defy the Night shows Kemmerer’s skills in a beautiful light and those who enjoyed her earlier work will be happy to see her skills growing. As for fans of Red Queen, I noticed a lot of similar elements between the two first novels: enemies-to-lovers, a rebellion, a political fantasy element, and the need for the heroine to adapt quickly to a richer lifestyle and attitude (while remaining loyal to herself). If this sounds at all like your type, pick it up and try it. I have yet to hear a negative review of Defy the Night, so hopefully that means a substantial number of readers will enjoy the adventures of Tessa, Wes, and Prince Corrick.


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