STARRED REVIEW
September 08, 2021

Defy the Night

By Brigid Kemmerer

King Harristan and his brother, Prince Corrick, have inherited a kingdom plagued by a deadly sickness, and the only cure, an elixir made from rare moonflower petals, is in dangerously low supply. Meanwhile, healer Tessa Cade and her partner, Wes, a mysterious thief, steal and redistribute moonflower petals to those in need.

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King Harristan and his brother, Prince Corrick, have inherited a kingdom plagued by a deadly sickness, and the only cure, an elixir made from rare moonflower petals, is in dangerously low supply. As the citizens of Kandala revolt, demanding that the cure be made more widely available, Harristan and Corrick crush all dissent with cruelty and violence.

Meanwhile, healer Tessa Cade and her partner, Wes, a mysterious thief, steal and redistribute moonflower petals to those in need. But as the sickness spreads, tensions rise between those who can afford cures and those who can’t. Desperate, Tessa sneaks into the castle—only to discover that Kandala’s corruption is far more complicated than it appears.

In alternating chapters narrated by Corrick and Tessa, Defy the Night hits the ground running and never slows down, leaping from one charged moment to the next. From horrific public executions to tense council negotiations to shocking rebel counterattacks, author Brigid Kemmerer (A Curse So Dark and Lonely) takes readers on a breakneck journey about power, deceit and the price of progress.

The book achieves a nuanced view of politics by depicting how individual characters impact and are affected by wider systemic issues in Kandala. Tessa sees how the poor struggle to stay alive and how their dissent transforms into revolution, while Corrick witnesses how those with power are willing to violate personal and moral boundaries to keep it.

Tessa and Corrick offer opposing but equally convincing perspectives on complex ethical questions. How should a limited resource be distributed? Are some people more deserving of help than others? What makes someone worthy of living, and what justifies a death? As Kemmerer’s characters wrestle with these dilemmas, readers are sure to rethink many of their own opinions.

An eventual connection between Tessa and Corrick reveals what can happen when individual people are empowered to make real, lasting change. Thoughtful, multifaceted and truly character-driven, Defy the Night is ultimately a hopeful story that shows how those who dare to envision a better future also have the power to make it a reality.

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Defy the Night

Defy the Night

By Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury
ISBN 9781547604661

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