A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

10:00 AM

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Source: Bought
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Overall: 5 STARS

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?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

It's taken me forever to write this review but Jessica Cluess's A Shadow Bright and Burning was one of my absolute favourite books last year! Set in an alternate Victorian London, this book featured everything I love to read: high-concept fantasy, exhilarating magic, a dash of romance, and a heroine who must fight against the odds to save the world. I just have ALL THE FEELS for A Shadow Bright and Burning and want everyone to know it.

Henrietta Howel was five-years-old when the Seven Ancients arrived in England, summoned by a witch and magician from another world, and began a bloody war that has never ended. Growing up far in the countryside at an all-girls school, Henrietta has never encountered one of the terrifying and grotesque Ancients, but she's heard the stories. And her childhood best friend, Rook, is an Unclean, bearing the scars of someone who's survived an attack by an Ancient.

But when shadowy Familiars, loyal servants of the Seven Ancients, suddenly try to capture Rook, Henrietta is forced to reveal a secret: she can burst into flame. Fearing a death sentence—after all, witchcraft is forbidden—Henrietta is instead offered a chance to train with Her Majesty's royal sorcerers in London. It's been foretold that a female sorcerer will triumph over the Ancients, and the Order believes Henrietta is the chosen one.

However, not everyone is happy the prophecy girl has been found. The Order's members have always been men, and they don't believe a sixteen-year-old girl should be joining their precious ranks. Girls are too delicate! Girls are too emotional! Girls are weak! And you know what? I loved Henrietta all the more because she was determined to prove those stodgy old men wrong, that a woman can be strong and brave, champion the less fortunate, and defeat monsters. And do this while wearing long skirts!

Although Henrietta must deal with misogynistic men, it's also in London where she finds passion and friendship among her fellow sorcerer trainees. There's the irresistibly charming and social Magnus, one of Henrietta's very first supporters. And Lord Blackwood, always serious and dour, not exactly confident in Henrietta's capabilities, but who could really use a friend. And okay, I'm so totally shipping Blackwood and Henrietta! (And no, it's not just because I read a lot of historical romance and have a weakness for titled lords, okay?)

And the magic! Oh my gosh, the magic in A Shadow Bright and Burning is just so fun and imaginative. As if the Seven Ancients weren't already enough, Henrietta can't ever forget there's a feud between sorcerers and magicians, that they both channel their magic very differently. There's just so much to love about Jessica Cluess's YA debut! The next book in the series, A Poison Dark and Drowning, can't come soon enough. It's definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2017.

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  1. Wonderful review! I've been debating if I should get this book and I totally think I will now. Your review makes me think I'll love it :D Too bad I haven't seen a lot of buzz surrounding this one...

    1. I really loved this one, Eileen! The magic, the world-building, reverse harem, the romance (the shipping was part of the fun!), the scary Ancients -- everything about it was so good and fun and imaginative. I've read some of the mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I didn't really agree with them. Actually, I'm glad I didn't read them because I might've missed reading such an imaginative fantasy! I'm really excited for the sequel coming out this fall!!