Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Kingdom on Fire #1
Jessica Cluess
Young Adult/Fantasy
416 pages
Random House
Available September 20th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a deeply satisfying start to this series, giving us a world full of monstrous beings and a rag tag group of young people doing everything in their power–magical and otherwise–to defeat them.

Henrietta's story is a triumphant rags to riches one in the beginning, her time at a miserable and abusive home for girls coming to an end in a literal blaze of glory before she's whisked off to train among the elite in sorcery as the Chosen One. It's not long however before we learn she's not in fact the Chosen One (though of course if you read the synopsis you'd know that already), but is instead something that could see her head removed from her shoulders on the Queen's orders. While the fact that she keeps the secret of who and what she is from those around her is a source of stress, as all life-changing secrets tend to be, it's more than understandable as to why she does so.

Though the synopsis suggests the existence of a love triangle or possibly even a square, no such romantic geometrical shape truly exists, and the fact that she's surrounded by young men is not due to her sparkling personality or good looks (though she does have a sharp wit and a highly enjoyable sense of humor) but rather to the fact that sorcerers are almost always men. There are two strong candidates for a relationship, but the romance overall is a background element (and Henrietta is not the type of girl to spend her days tripping all over herself in the presence of cute boys), Henrietta's training, the increasing attacks of the Ancients, and a dark conspiracy within the ranks of the sorcerers themselves all taking precedence.

The world itself is an intriguing one, enough background on the Ancients and how they came to be provided so that we can easily orient ourselves, but it's also a vast enough tapestry that we've clearly only scratched the surface in this first installment. We're left with a solid conclusion and no cliffhanger, an epic battle waged and won but a greater war on the horizon as we look forward to book two.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jessica:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.


  1. I have noticed some books do that, suggesting a love triangle and then there is none, and I am happy

  2. I'm getting strong Red Queen vibes from this one, which is actually a good thing. And I'm so very relieved about the love triangle, square or whatever. I can't handle another one.

  3. I am always on the hunt for a good YA fantasy. I have never heard of this one! I will have to add it to my TBR list. I like the sound of Henrietta--my kind of heroine! Great review, Jenny!

  4. Oh wow this book sure does sound like it has a lot going for it, I'm glad that there isn't a love triangle or a cliffhanger, as otherwise I wouldn't be able to deal! Lovely review!

  5. Ok Jenny you have piqued my interest, I enjoy YA fantasy and yes the hint of a square scared me.

  6. I really enjoyed this one! I loved the twists in the world building and I'm glad that the romance was quite UN-central so to speak!
    And weird me I'm rooted for a third suitor that isn't really a suitor yet!

  7. I'm still on the fence about picking this one up. It doesn't sound all that different from what's now out in fantasy. I think I'll wait to see what book 2 delivers before I pick this one up. I'm thrilled to hear that there is no triangle or square going on. Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. I haven't seen this one before, it reminds me of that witch series, I can't think of the name we read it with Lillian who was a witch and burned and walked among worlds. Anyway this sounds like something I might like.

  9. I do like the sound of Henrietta. I'm also glad there is no romantic geometry. :) I do think I'll like this one. You also won me over with no cliffie! NICE! :)

    How are you Jenny? How are the pups? :)

  10. I'm kind of excited to read this now Jenny, there have been so many so so reviews for it but your's makes me excited to actually read it again. ;)

  11. There'd been some polarizing reviews as of late for this book so I'm kind of wary. Plus, you know I don't do well with fantasy, even more so. You make it sound intriguing, though!

  12. I can't recall if I've seen this around or not. Henrietta sounds like my kind of heroine though!

  13. I'm still bitter that I didn't see you ar BEA.

    I'm reading thus now and enjoying it! I like that the romance isn't a main focus and that there doesn't seem to be a "choosing" yet. Also good to hear that we've only just scratched the surface of the world!

  14. I'm still bitter that I didn't see you ar BEA.

    I'm reading thus now and enjoying it! I like that the romance isn't a main focus and that there doesn't seem to be a "choosing" yet. Also good to hear that we've only just scratched the surface of the world!

  15. Yay, I'm so happy you enjoyed this too, Jenny! And, no love-triangle to really worry about either. I'm excited to continue this series :)

  16. I love the cover of this one! I'm curious about it, for sure. Great review!

  17. I just got the audio for this one last week and I'm really excited for it, sounds so good!

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

  18. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Jenny! I was concerned about a love triangle with this so thanks for confirming that's not the case. Can't wait to dive into this new series, now! Amazing review, dear! :)

  19. Ooh this does sound good! It's current;y in my review pile and I'm looking forward to reading it! Glad it was enjoyable. Great review!