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I Belong

Early Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and BurningTitle: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Author: Jessica Cluess

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Series: Kingdom on Fire (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages

ISBN-10: 0553535900 (Random House)

ISBN-13: 978-0553535907 (Random House)

Reviewed by: Bridget


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 Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem.

Quick & DirtyGorgeously woven story brimming with magic, romance, and action. This was a brilliant debut and I would highly recommend it to all young adult fans!

Opening Sentence: The sorcerer arrived on a Saturday.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Henrietta Howel has magic running through her veins but no one can ever know about it. Years ago there was a witch who cast a spell that allowed a horde of bloodthirsty demons to roam the earth. The demons have been terrorizing Britain ever sense and the only thing stopping them is a group of sorcerers! It is said that only men have the ability to be a sorcerer. Women with magic are witches and all witches are to be executed!

When Henrietta exposes herself in order to save a friend she is surprised to find herself still alive. It turns out there is a prophesy that states a female sorcerer will be the only person able to defeat the demons! Henrietta is taken to the beautiful city of London where she is to train with all the other novice sorcerers! As she learns more about her powers she comes to realize she may not be the person from the prophesy! Who can she trust, what will happen if she can’t stop the demons?

Henrietta was such a fantastic character. She is spunky, sweet, funny, and intelligent! I instantly connected with her and my love for her just grew with each page! While she is a kind hearted person she is also realistic. She had abilities that could get her killed if she didn’t hide them. Because of her situation there were very few people who truly knew her and she didn’t easily trust others! I loved watching her stumble and fail because she would always learn from her mistakes! She grows so much throughout the story and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her next!

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a lush gorgeous high fantasy that I loved! The story felt so fresh and unique with its Victorian setting and magical elements! I really adored all of the characters, but I do wish I had gotten to know a few of them a little better! Hopefully in the sequel Cluess will dig a little deeper into some of the secondary characters! The pacing of the book was spot on and I was happily surprised by a couple of plot twists! The only negative thing I have to say about this story was that I really struggled with the romance! I never really knew who was a love interest and who was a friend! There was one character that obviously cared deeply for Henrietta but her interaction with him was very minimal, so I never develop much of a connection for him or their relationship! Honestly, I was pretty confused by all aspects of the romance in this story and sadly it never got better. But there is definitely potential for a great romance and I hope that it will be better in the second book! Even with its flaws this was still a masterpiece and I would highly recommend it to all young adult fantasy fans!

Notable Scene:

A great black funnel cloud, so dark that it stood out again’s the night sky. The beast towered fifty,sixty feet, and every time he roared, houses creaked and groaned. When the lightning flashed, I saw a great horned creature’s head perched atop the cloud with fiendish, slit red eyes. Tentacles, like those belonging to some undersea monstrosity, waved wildly from the center. One crash into a window and sent half a brick wall tumbling down. Those tentacles had given Rook his scars.

The Kingdom on Fire Series:

1. A Shadow Bright and Burning (September 20, 2016)


FTC Advisory:  Random House provided me with a copy of A Shadow Bright and Burning.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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