‘Defy the Night’: an iconic example of world-building


Photo courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

Author Brigid Kemmerer’s new young adult book “Defy the Night” was released on Sept. 14. The page-turner will surely have fantasy fans eager to read.

D'Juanna Lester, Arts Reporter

In a previous article “Fall 2021 Anticipated YA Book Releases,” I listed “Defy the Nightby young adult (YA) fantasy author Brigid Kemmerer as an anticipated September release. The book has been out for a few weeks now, and this page-turner will surely have fantasy fans eager to read! 

This first book in Kemmerer’s new fantasy duology kicks off with introducing us to main characters Tessa Cade and her Robin Hood-like best friend and fellow orphan Weston “Wes” Lark. Readers are sure to fall in love with these characters, and the dynamic between the two throughout the book will have readers hooked until the very last page. 

Cade’s point of view (POV) isn’t the singular narrative that we get in this book. The book is split into two POVs, Tessa’s and Corrick’s. Corrick is the rugged, scarred prince and King’s Justice. The first few chapters set the perfect stage for the story. We’re introduced to many characters that will play important roles throughout the book, and hopefully, the anticipated sequel. 

Kemmerer’s beautiful storytelling is so unique, and a big part of what makes her such a beloved writer is her characters. If you enjoyed Harper from “A Curse so Dark and Lonely,” you will definitely enjoy Cade. Cade is an apothecary in the Wilds, and has been working with Lark since the assassination of her parents. She is strong-willed and brave, much like Prince Corrick. Throughout the book, we see this tough, hard-shelled character grow softer and more humane. 

We also get interesting characters like King Harriston — Prince Corrick’s eldest brother — as well as the consuls of Kandala. There are also the mysterious Benefactors, who are thought of as the motivators behind the impending revolution. 

Besides the intriguing characters, the story follows a compelling plot with twists and suspense that will have readers on the edge of their seats right up until the very end. The plot follows Cade and Lark, as every night, the pair sneak into the Royal Sector to steal the Moonflower petals — the only known cure for the rapidly spreading disease. 

The POVs of Prince Corrick go into depth about the political court of Kandala. When Cade ends up working for the king, we see the dynamics between the characters shift. We also see the conflict between the royals and the consuls come to a head when the book reaches the climax. Consul Alisander and Prince Corrick have an interesting dynamic that had me invested, especially when the steps of an incoming revolution are being carried out by the rebels. 

Every great first book in a series needs outstanding world-building — it sets the stage for the rest of the series. It establishes characters, the main story and the setting. If readers can’t understand where the story takes place, then the world-building isn’t that great. Kemmerer’s world-building is amazing in this story — you can picture the world in your head like watching a movie. It’s a beautifully established world that’s fun to follow with political intrigue, twists and character that will tug at your heartstrings.