YA Books

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and Netgalley for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future. 

I loved this book so much! The characters are written so well, they are complicated and nuanced and this book is full of morally grey characters!

Despite the characters doing questionable things, I still felt myself rooting for them because they were put in such difficult situations and you can see they are trying their best to do what’s right but also make decisions that aren’t the best. But they acknowledged what they had done and that it wasn’t right but they did it because it was the lesser of two evils. They had remorse for it and actively tried to do what’s right. It just made the two brothers so interesting to read. I especially loved Corrick’s point of view because of that. Seeing him and his brother from other perspectives it seems as though they are just heartless people who care nothing for the suffering of it’s people but when you see how they think and everything they are trying to do and trying to juggle and balance between so many groups of people.

Corrick is probably my favourite character just because of how complex and nuanced he was. He did questionable things but he also deeply cared for his people. He could trust no one and so struggled with all this alone unable to even speak to his brother because he had to protect him. I did like Harristan as well but we didn’t get to see as much of him but I hope we see more of him in the sequel as I think he will also be a really interesting character.

Tessa was another interesting character because she sees everything as black and white at the beginning of the book. But as she learns more about the complexities of everything that is going on she realises that everything isn’t as simple as she first thought. I also really loved that she is a healer and that she uses that to help those who are the most vulnerable and even helps the King to help the people. I liked seeing that she had confidence in her skills and yet still has moments of self doubt, it made her seem so much more real.

This book surprised me with a plot twist early on that I did not see coming at all and left me shook! I literally had to stop reading to scream because WHAT! But I loved that twist so much because it made the story so much more interesting! I also loved the slow build up to the climax where all the pieces finally fit together and I liked that the ending felt like a complete story but also that there’s more and honestly I am so excited for the sequel!

I highly recommend reading this the story had me hooked from the beginning and I just couldn’t stop reading. I loved the complex characters especially and cannot wait to read more about them.

Adult Books

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.


As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them.

I have to say I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked some parts and some not so much. I enjoyed the slow burn of Paige and Warden’s relationship. I think in this book we finally get to see their relationship develop as they have the chance to actually discuss how they feel.

I liked seeing other parts of this world and what’s happening outside of England and the characters we are introduced to and some characters we had previously met made an appearance again but I really missed Nick and Eliza. I hope we get to see them again in the next book! They were y favourite side characters and I truly think this book was weaker without them in it with Paige.

I had issues with the pacing and how slow the book was. It took me a while to get through it as I would put it down and not pick it up for days but the ending was more interesting. A lot happens at the end and I wish we could have gotten more of that instead. We get lots of revelations that have been building up in the last two books and it was interesting to get some answers of some of the mysteries and revelations of who was pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I’m still not sold on Paige and Warden as a couple though. I still think we don’t know much about Warden and how he feels and thinks outside of Paige’s perspective and it just meant that I couldn’t really connect with him despite being four books in. We get some more information about the Rephaim but they are still very much a mystery. By this point it made them less interesting as characters especially as we barely see them in the book. Also I feel a bit annoyed by the fact that some Rephaim have names like Arcturus and Terebell and yet the antagonists have PoC sounding names like Nashira and Suhail.

This book deals a lot with Paige’s recovery and how she manages after being tortured and the PTSD she has. I thought it was dealt with quite well seeing her struggle and freeze because of it. The lasting effects it had on her body physically. I really liked seeing that in the book.

When we first met Paige I really loved her and I loved how much she grew in the Mime Order but since I have felt she has become more reckless and runs head first before thinking things through which resulted in a lot of problems in this book and I just felt that someone who is supposed to be running a revolution needs to be less reckless. I think that’s why I missed Eliza and Nick a lot too because I felt they grounded her and guided her to be less reckless and think things through. The ending especially regarding Warden and how Paige dealt with it was something I wasn’t a fan of because we see them develop and yet Paige easily believes what happens at the end without questioning it until it is too late.

Overall I liked this book but I do have some issues with pacing and Paige’s arc (or seemingly lack thereof). I feel like there wasn’t a lot of progress in the book as to her goals to lead a revolution. It takes her the whole book to make the alliances necessary. I am hoping that the next book will have some more progression and we will hopefully see the characters from previous books again.

Fiction Books, YA Books

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the first book especially as it wasn’t your typical retelling but had a much larger story arc but I was really disappointed by the sequel.

410E7504-A89F-472A-802D-4CFBC96C6579

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

*This review contains very mild spoilers*

I was really looking forward to seeing where the story would go next especially with the way Curse ended but I was left feeling really unsatisfied by this book. I was expecting lots of action and political tension with contrasting views between Rhen and Grey but we don’t get any of that.

Instead we get a whole lot of nothing really, during this whole book absolutely nothing of consequence happens. I found myself completely bored and not wanting to pick the book up for days at a time. We only see Grey’s and Lia’s point of view so we don’t even know what is happening outside of their small view as they spend most of the time on the run and in seclusion or trapped in a castle far from Emberfall.

While I do love Grey and I did end up really liking Lia I wish more had actually happened. I wanted to see more interaction between Rhen and Grey I wanted to see more of Harper. I also was not a fan of Rhen’s character development, or the lack thereof, he went backwards and I ended up not liking him at all in this book. He also very obviously has PTSD but this is used to make him a ruthless villain who even tortures a child at one point. I was so confused by this as Brigid did a great job showing Harper’s disability positively. I just wish the conversation was more nuanced.

I do love Grey and how much he cares for others and how kind and fair he is and we can see that he would become a great King, one that would actually help it’s people and I really liked seeing Lia interact with him. She was another character that while I did like did also annoy me at times. Though I did like how she has beaten down to the point that she doesn’t always trust her own judgement and ability because she would actually be a great Queen but not one that her mother wants her to be as she won’t be completely obedient to Karis. I enjoyed watching her learn to trust herself more and how Grey and Lia helped each other grow.

This is a very long book which had very little substance to it and felt like we didn’t really need much of the plot at all. It felt like a lot of filler information whereas the direction the story we were hinted at in Curse was one of brothers who become rivals with real consequences whereas we only see them have one conversation about the future of Emberfall in the very last chapter!

Fiction Books, YA Books

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Book Review

I recently reread ACSDAL during the Curse Readalong hosted by Bloomsbury Publishing and I forgot how much I loved this book!

750CB4BF-0D1F-4F58-90D6-45E66BD712D5

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fall in love, break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

This book was not what I was expecting, in a good way. I have seen a lot of Beauty and the Beast retellings being released over the last few years and I’ve found them to be quite similar in their storyline which made me hesitant to read this. However this was a totally unique take on the story and I absolutely loved it!

We get both Harper and Rhen’s point of view so it was really interesting to see things from both of their views. Harper is an outsider and doesn’t know much about Emberfall and Rhen is the prince of Emberfall and while he grew up there, he hasn’t been out of his castle for 5 years. Harper reminded him that despite the curse he can still help his people and gave him hope. I really loved seeing that.

I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.

Harper is by far my favourite character, she is brave, determined, resilient and doesn’t let anyone push her around, not even a prince! She has cerebral palsy, which I was surprised to see because we rarely get any disability or long term health conditions rep in books and this rep was really great! She accepts this is a part of her life but doesn’t let it control her life and neither does she allow anyone to just pity her or baby her because she is in pain or walks with a limp. She will always hold a special place in my heart because I have long term health conditions which affect my daily life and I could see myself in Harper.

When we first meet Rhen, he is stubborn and arrogant and impatient. He could be petty at times too and I didn’t particularly like him at first. But he did grow on me as we learn more about him and he grows a lot as a person throughout the story.

The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.

The third character was Grey and while we don’t get his point of view, I completely fell in love with him! I actually prefer him to Rhen and shipped him and Harper more. He is Rhen’s guard and absolutely deadly. Yet he is a big softie which we see throughout the story when he interacts with the children. I really hope we see more of him in the second book, especially after that ending and epilogue!

This story doesn’t centre around Harper and Rhen falling in love so Harper can break the curse, it is bigger than that. It’s about saving all of Emberfall and caring for all the people there who have been suffering. It’s about social justice and doing something to help even if you can’t save everyone. It showed me that having a disability doesn’t mean you aren’t capable.

Failure isn’t absolute, just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book, I especially hope to see more Grey and more of the world as we don’t really get to explore much we are only told of places and other kingdoms.

PS. If you preorder A Heart so Fierce and Broken which is out in January then you can get some amazing preorder goodies! Check out the link here for more information!