Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess {review}

A Shadow Bright and Burning
by Jessica Cluess
♦publisher: Random House BFYR
♦release date: September 20th, 2016
♦hardcover, 416 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Kingdom of Fire, book 1 
♦source: ARC from publisher for honest review
I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. 

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen 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 Howel 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, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Review: This story is quite literally exciting and fun from start to finish. I really, really enjoyed every moment. There were some fantastic shocking twists, and even a moment I gasped so loud, my daughter came out of her room to check on me. xD  I loved the very non-stuffy alternate-London Victorian setting, I loved the characters (well, some are more of a "love to hate" thing) and I think this is a great start to an exciting new series.

Henrietta is a character to root for. She has this incredible power, but it's Victorian London, so even when she is brought into the school to train, she is constantly having to prove herself among the men. She is feisty and knew what she needed to do---and I loved that when "their way" with magic doesn't quite work for her, she finds a way of her own to still accomplish the same goal, even when she knows the truth could derail everything.

Those who are wary of love triangles or any sort of multiple-option love interests are probably going to have a field day with this romance. I myself really enjoyed it. It's not a huge part of the story---and I loved that Henrietta's focus really stays mostly on becoming a commended sorcerer and getting a better life for her and her friend Rook.  I loved that there were lots of growing and changing friendships among them, some definite up and downs in each relationship, and actually two, that I just wished they had stayed friends and only friends. By the end, there was only one that I personally wanted to see her end up with, if she ends up with anyone at all. But that could all change in the coming installments, of course!

One thing I did want for in this was just a little more "why" and "how" when it came to the Ancients. I felt a lot of details about the lore and why they did what they did and how they worked was kind of skimmed over as we were thrown right into the action of fighting them off. I'm hoping for a little more clarity on that end in the future of this series. I did however, love the history that was given of the sorcerers vs. magicians, and am hoping for a more in-depth look at that, too!

A fantastic and breath-taking debut and one that I will definitely be counting down the days to book 2 for!!


Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.


Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


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