4 Stars Book Reviews

Book Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Hey everyone and happy Tuesday! We’ve finally approached the end of August and fall is coming. I’m super excited for the cooler weather, the falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and everything that comes with it. But anyways, going back on topic, I have a review of Defy the Night to share with all of you! It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, and I’m super happy that I was able to read the e-arc of it early! It was definitely a good book to close off August with, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with all of you. So…let’s get started!

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loved ACSDAL by Brigid Kemmerer, and when I saw that she was coming out with another book, I knew I wanted to give it a try! Honestly, I had no idea that this was a retelling of “Robin Hood” before I read a few other reviews, but now that I do, I think it does a good job at distinguishing itself from the story. I’ve been in a big slump of “mediocre” books, and I’m glad to say that this one did surpass my expectations!

This book starts off with the introduction of our two main characters, Tessa and Corrick, in an alternating dual POV. In the Kingdom of Kandala, a sickness is spreading through the land, threatening all that aren’t rich enough to secure the limited cure made from Moonflower petals. People are dying, towns are suffering, and the country is on the brink of rebellion and revolution. It’s interesting to see the whole divide between the rich & the poor, as well as the tensions created as a result of the whole scenario.

As for our characters, we first meet Tessa Cade, a young apothecary apprentice who dedicates her nights to stealing Moonflower petals from the royal palace. She’s not my favorite character and I found her a bit too rash, sappy, and boring at times, but it didn’t affect my reading too much. Along with her best friend Wes, she creates these elixirs and secretly distributes them across town to those who need it the most. There’s a secret aspect to their relationship, with both of them promising to never reveal their faces or further their relationship beyond what they currently have to protect their identities from being uncovered. Learning about this high-stakes job they take on really helps emphasize the suffering Kandala is currently in along with the severity of the whole spreading sickness. It definitely helps set up the rest of the story in terms of immersing us into this new world.

We also get introduced to the members of the Kandala royal palace. There’s King Harristan, who was unexpectedly thrown into power after the death of his parents. He’s suffering from his own illness, and faces constant coughing that he tries to hide to preserve his public image. He’s harsh at times, but also really caring about the wellbeing of his people. He is also rather sheltered when it comes to the less ideal parts of his job, which he leaves up to his brother Corrick, but you can definitely see his growth in attempting to be more involved in his role as King throughout the story.

There’s also Corrick, who is designated as the King’s Justice, or assassin to those against the crown. He’s your classic morally-grey swoonworthy hero, but it’s okay because we always need more of those! Despite his apathetic appearance, he truly does suffer from carrying out his violent job. He protects those close to him and takes on a lot of the political responsibilities of the nation, especially with the King’s secret health condition. There’s also a bunch of side characters, including Allisander and Quint, who are all interesting to read about. I especially loved Quint, and I thought he was kind of a “cinnamon roll” character who is one of Corrick’s best friends and does everything possible to protect him, even in defiance of the King.

I also LOVED listening to all of the court politics of Kandala, as well as its complexities. Along with the King, there are royal Consuls of all the neighboring regions, and you get to witness their own dynamics, alliances, and relationships as well as how they influence the story. There are political aspects from the beginning that get brought up at the end of the story, and I liked how it underlined the whole book. We also see how the Consuls deal with the countrywide illness, especially with two regions having a monopoly on the Moonflower supply. I enjoyed reading about Harristan and Corrick managed these relationships, especially when the health of the country was on the line.

I don’t know about anyone else who’s read this, but there was a big big plot twist in the middle of the story that kind of took me by surprise! I sort of guessed parts of it, but definitely not the main aspect, and I was like gasping in actual shock. It made the story so much more interesting and set off the next events to come. It was just really good and made me want to read more of the book, when I usually have to set a page goal to motivate me. There’s also a lot of reveals that come towards the end of the book one after the other, and it was really nice to have all the plot points tie up.

I know I’m all over the place, but going back to the relationships, there’s a huge focus on the romance throughout the story. There is definitely still the plot to back it up, which I enjoyed because there are so many times where I feel like the plot doesn’t stand up to the characters well enough. I really loved the hate-to-love romance throughout the story, and I just wanted more angst! I mean, there’s a few chapters where it’s at its peak, and if it lasted through more of the story, I would have probably liked the book even more. The relationship eventually comes to a point where it slows down and becomes too simple and gushy, which isn’t wrong, but it just wasn’t that interesting. I don’t know, I know hate to love has to eventually turn into love, but I missed the retorts, entertaining banter, and romantic tension between them! It’s just that the tension was the only thing that kept me reading.

Anyways, it was a pretty good book overall! The plot was good, the characters were good (for the most part), and the romance for a decent chunk of the story was good. I thought it was a pretty fun read to end off my August with, and I’d highly recommend this to anyone else interested in the genre, especially if you’re a big fan of political intrigue or the ACSDAL series.

Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for sending me an e-arc of this one! This doesn’t influence my review in any way.

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That concludes my review! I know I was a bit all over the place with some of my thoughts, but I hope you enjoyed reading through it anyways.

Have a great Tuesday everyone and happy reading!
-Allison

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