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Book Review: Defy the Night and Defend The Dawn by Brigid Kemmerer

I’ve written about Brigid Kemmerer’s novels before on my blog so, it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about her new-ish YA Fantasy series again. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (you can read my review of this trilogy here) was a beauty and the beast re-telling, and while the Defy The Night series isn’t a fairytale retelling, it still has all of Brigid Kemmerer’s flair and world-building that I love.

“Mind Your Mettle”

Tessa and Corrick

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Starting with Defy the Night, this story follows Tessa and Prince Corrick as the main characters. In the kingdom of Kandala, sickness is destroying the land, the rich are hoarding medicine and the poor are struggling to survive. King Harriston is trying to maintain peace through his brother’s, Prince Corrick, reputation as a cruel King’s Justice to terrify the population. The brothers are struggling to maintain control of the kingdom and that’s where Tessa Cade comes in.

Tessa is an apothecary apprentice and has been stealing medicine from the rich and distributing it to the sick. Along with her partner in crime, Wes, they try their best to help the sick and poor but it’s still not enough. Rumours of a rebellion take hold of the country, and when Tessa sneaks into the palace she questions everything she knows.

In the sequel, Defend the Dawn, Tessa, Corrick and Harriston are given the opportunity to get more medicine for their people but the offer comes from a country they’ve lost all contact with. Filled with suspicion, Tessa and Corrick board a ship to the kingdom of Ostriary all the while, they’re trying their best to fix their own relationship. But, with betrayals and lies found everywhere, Tessa and Corrick’s relationship is under fire.

At the same time, Harriston, the King, is wanted for allegedly lying to his people. Eager to avoid another rebellion he finds himself asking for help from the most unlikely of people.

Firstly, the plot and world-building are unreal. The plot is reminiscent of the pandemic the only difference is that it’s happening in a different time period. In the second novel, political intrigue becomes a huge part of the plot and if you’ve read my other blog posts then you’ll know that I LOVE novels with political intrigue. Political intrigue adds so much depth and complexity to any story, so I love how it was done in the second novel. We got smart, witty and sometimes infuriating politics play out in the book and that is part of the reason why this series, as a whole, is a 4.5-star read.

Speaking about world-building: it is one of the best parts of the first novel. Being introduced to a new universe, new characters and their problems is an important thing to get right when starting a novel and I think the author does this perfectly. It’s familiar to other fantasy kingdoms but also new and unique in its own way.

Tessa was brilliant in the first novel. She was an active character, busy saving lives and trying to help people while working with Harriston and Corrick. Her moral compass and her compassion are what sets her apart, she assumes the best of everyone and is not as cynical as the brothers are. In the second novel, however, her character felt a bit flat. From being an active and smart character in the first novel, she seemed more childish and a little bit too naive. This isn’t a big deal but considering the fact that Tessa is a main character (along with Corrick) it bothered me a lot and ultimately, this her lack of character development in the second novel is why this series is not a full 5-stars.

Corrick is complicated and easily one of my favourite male characters ever. He wants to be kind but he needs to be harsh and cruel leader to keep order in the kingdom. This is what causes a lot of conflict in his storyline, he wants to be more like Tessa but feels as if he has no choice but to be unkind and cruel. This internal moral dilemma is what I find interesting about his character and this is what sets his character development apart from Tessa, who doesn’t have much of an internal conflict in comparison to Corrick. He’s essentially, just a more interesting and complex character and, in my opinion, he is the driving force behind these novels.

[SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH] We don’t get any chapters from Harriston in the first novel, but in the second novel we do get a few and I just want to say I KNEW IT! In Chapter 21, when Brigid Kemmerer made her big reveal I KNEW IT WAS HARRISTON! I called it when we got his first chapter as ‘the Outlaw’. I FREAKING KNEW IT. Needless to say, Chapter 21 was very wholesome and satisfying to read. I’ll just leave my opinions about Harriston at that.

Just a brief comment about the relationships in this series, we get a lot of great moments between the brothers, Harriston and Corrick. I think these two are the more well-written characters in this series. We get a lot of slow-burn romance between Tessa and Corrick which I love as well! Slow burns are my favourite types of romances so the tension and development between these two are great as well. Also, in the second novel we are introduced to a potential love interest for Harriston, while we don’t know much about Violet, I do see potential here and I’m excited for the future of our king.

Overall, this is a brilliantly written series (so far!). I love the characters, especially the complexity of Corrick, which is my favourite aspect of this series. The world-building is brilliant, the writing style is great and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next instalment! So, thank you for reading my review and I hope you all have a lovely day.

And yes, you can almost 100% expect me to write another review when the final novel in this trilogy is published!


Published by Faith

Writer. Blogger. Bad Photographer. Makeup, skincare and fashion enthusiasts (not an expert!). And bookworm extraordinaire.

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