Release date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Random House
*Received physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This story was definitely intriguing and will keep you interested from start to finish. However, if you're looking for lots of action you'll find that it's a slow build and doesn't come often. But as mentioned in the blurb, it's an introduction to the main character and her abilities, as well as all the other individuals that become part of her magical world.
Henrietta Howel isn't your average sixteen-year-old. Working as a young teacher at a school where the headmaster could get quite brutal, she had to fight hard to not only survive her unfortunate situation, but she also had to hide the fact that she could burst into flames. With the help of her dear childhood friend, Rook, who had severe issues of his own, they're able to keep her secret while envisioning a better life away from their current. Then all of a sudden some dark forces spring out of nowhere and Henrietta's power is discovered. And so her journey to being recognized as a so-called chosen young girl who could destroy the monsters once and for all began. Henrietta is introduced to counterparts, as young as she was, and all shared the same goal: to be commended by the queen. Most of the story is about Henrietta's training and the confusion as to why she was unable to perform certain things a sorcerer would easily. We later discover the reason why, along with the mystery surrounding her parents.
It was quite interesting, learning about the Ancients and how they came to be. But I was mostly fascinated with Henrietta's dilemma and wanted to know how it would all play out. She knew the truth yet she kept it from the other sorcerers, fearing they wouldn't accept her. And after the way people like her were dealt with in the past, I didn't blame her.
Other interesting aspects of the story involved Rook's battle with the dark side. He seemed like a true friend to Henrietta and his deep feelings for her were obvious, but for some reason I just didn't want them to be anything more than friends. I really felt for him and all his anguish, and at some point I wanted them to put him out of his misery because it was obvious what would happen later on. It'll be interesting to see how his character develops in the next book.
Henrietta is a strong female character. In a time where women were definitely told to hold their tongues, she was headstrong and unafraid to stand up for what she believed in. I loved those traits of her character. And when it came to her heart, I rooted for her and Magnus. Their connection was evident throughout the pages and I hope they find a way to be together soon. Hopefully Magnus will sort out his situation and fight to be with her.
In conclusion, A Shadow Bright and Burning is a wonderful, alluring story with great writing. Love the historical setting with dark and magical elements. Can't wait to read the sequel and see where the author takes us next.