Book Review: A Shadow Bright And Burning

Posted November 27, 2017 by Kara in book review, Kara / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Shadow Bright And BurningA Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom On Fire #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 20th 2016
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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Henrietta can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

I have to be honest. I didn’t like this book at first and considered DNFing it. The sentences were too short and the style was choppy. I like long, descriptive sentences, plenty of imagery, and a world I can get lost in. This wasn’t that at all, but something kept me reading.

Perhaps it was the delightful banter between characters, the shippy-ship goodness, the lovable protagonist who kept messing up (and owned her ineptness), the surprises that shocked even me, or this magical world that I wasn’t sure about at first but then bewitched me with its brilliance. It all felt sort of like it’d been done before and yet it was charming and felt new all at the same time.

So basically there’s this alternate, fantastical London. Once the book gets THERE, it picks up, but the beginning was a bit slow, opening up and setting the story at this school where the girls have a brutal headmaster, and Henrietta’s friendship with Rook, who’s a victim of one of the Ancients and suffering from severe pain as a result. When they leave to go to London and she starts her magical training, it became a book that I very much enjoyed. There’s a dome of magical energy over part of London, and this keeps the sorcerers safe from the Ancients, but at the expense of the rest of London including the poor and the Magicians and Witches who are at odds with the Sorcerers that control the country.

Henrietta begins to learn secrets about her background from a certain someone and the tension just builds and builds as we read about the kind of stress and pressure she truly is under to save the country from the Ancients.

Speaking of the Ancients, HOLY CRAP. Talk about some weird, freaky shit. I’m not sure that I am afraid of them yet because they are a bit on the cartoonish side, but they are certainly interesting. I need to know more of how they arrived in London and the rest of Europe, but so far I am on board with this world-building.

I tried to get the next book, because this is a trilogy and I wanted to read it ASAP, but I decided to wait until the third book comes out. I may or may not reread this book then–it just depends on how much of it I remember, but it’s pretty memorable so I am doubting I will have much trouble.

I recommend A Shadow Bright and Burning to anyone looking for a fun fantasy escape with delectable banter and relationships, and exciting twists and turns.



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