Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Audiobook Length: 12 hours 58 minutes
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.
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After having some mixed feelings for the Cursebreakers series and enjoying the Forging Silver into Stars series, so far, I could not wait to begin the Defy the Night trilogy. This new series is not related to either of the other ones, so I was curious about the new world the author would create. The series takes place in the Kingdom of Kandala where new King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick, who serves as the King’s Justice, are adjusting to their new roles after their parents were assassinated. There is also a sickness spreading through the kingdom and the only known cure is moonflower petals.
The actual plague is the driving force behind Tessa and Wes working together and introduces the reader to the kingdom dynamics as well as two of the characters. As the moonflowers in the story are utilized by the rich and powerful, this leaves the poor without a cure. Enter Tessa Cade, a masked outlaw, who works together with her friend, Weston Lark, to gather moonflower cures for the poor. When Wes disappears, she enters the palace to find him only to end up among the royals. Here the rest of the novel gets set up with some twists and turns and additional build-up of the characters.
As the story is told between the POVs of Carrick and Tessa, I loved that this illustrated the two sides with Carrick on the royal side and Tessa on the poor. Their characters were each enjoyable, although I favored Carrick a little more than Tessa. While she was not a bad character, I wish there was a little less telling about what a badass she was as there were plenty of examples to show the reader. For me, it took away from a reader connecting naturally to her character as they are almost told to focus on this aspect of her rather than all her other great qualities. As for Carrick, he was interesting as he is morally grey with different sides to his character. He has a complex dynamic with his brother as the two care greatly for each other, but they have a lot going on in the kingdom to occupy their minds.
Overall, this was an enjoyable start to the series. It reads as a fun Robin Hood reimagining, so in a way, I wish that this was marketed as such to potentially expand its audience as it is a great story. The novel itself uses a lot of common YA tropes, so some readers may not connect as they tend to be overused in these types of stories. While I am still a fan of many of these tropes, I do wish that there was something else added to help set this apart from the millions of other novels out there. Kemmerer, however, does have an engaging style of writing and, although this story does not end on a typical cliffhanger, there are lots of unknowns that I want to see worked out in the next novel!