Defiant, by Karina Sumner-Smith, is the follow-up novel to her debut, Radiant, and the middle chapter of her Towers Trilogy. Picking up two months after the conclusion of Radiant, the book continues the story of Xhea, a girl with no place in a world running on magic, her friend, Shai, the ghost of a girl from the rich floating city, and what happens when the unwanted pair become the focus of powerful people. The book tells a fast-moving story fraught with danger in clear, readable prose and builds to a climax that packs an emotional punch.
Her dual protagonists Xhea and Shai continue to engage me as their friendship deepens and survives further tests. Sumner-Smith also expands Xhea’s background and history with some surprising reveals.
In Defiant, Sumner-Smith also builds unexpected depth to her setting from Radiant, which is a cool combination of post-apocalypse and fantasy, completely unlike the tired secondary worlds in most fantasy novels.
Immediately on finishing Defiant, I had to dive right into the concluding book in the trilogy, Towers Fall to see how it all turns out.