Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Release date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Random House
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.

*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.

Jessica CluessAbout the Author
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. 

Visit her at 
Follow her on Twitter at @JessCluess.


  1. OOh nice! I have this in my review pile and hope to read it soon! Falling so behind on those books lately! Lol! Glad to hear this one was good! I thought it sounded like an intriguing read and glad to hear that it pretty much is! Nice review!

    1. I'm way behind too lol yeah it is a good story. Hope you'll like it :)

  2. Excellent review! I don't mind a slow build and this sounds fantastic. :D

    1. Thanks, Angel. Hope you give it a read. It is a good story.

  3. I don't mind world building and slow starts either, especially if I'm prepared for them so thanks for the warning and wonderful review for this!

  4. I have seen this one around, Shane, and you review made me even more interested to pick it up! I don't mind a slow build, sometimes, that just makes a story stronger :) Great review.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. Yeah I think with it taking time, the main character especially was developed. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you give this a try too!

  5. Sounds like this was the perfect introduction to the series, with the introduction of characters and all the world building. Awesome review Shane!

    1. It was intriguing for the most part. Not a lot of action, but yeah, good on the introduction. Thanks, Naomi :)


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