Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Kingdom on Fire #1
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: ARC Tour
Format: ARC
Pages: 416

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she's brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a fantastic debut that has a little bit of everything! A little romance, a little betrayal, several monsters, and a lot of magic!

Henrietta Howel was working in a girl's school until she was discovered to be the prophesied female sorcerer needed to fight the Ancients, seven horrible monsters trying to destroy England. She was taken from the school to London to study under the sorcerer Agrippa along with his other sorcerer apprentices.

I really liked Henrietta. She deals with a lot in this book. She deals with the horrible man in charge of the school she was at. She deals with how people treat her dear friend Rook as he is an Unclean, touched by one of the Ancients. She deals with all the crap she gets about being a female sorcerer and being behind everyone else. I think she deals with it all fairly well. I think she deals with it realistically.

I really enjoyed the relationships that she formed with all the boys also being apprenticed by Agrippa. Some of them start on the wrong foot and grow on each other and some of them start off well and end in betrayal. Even though Blackwood is kind of a total jerk, I think he might be my favorite of the other sorcerers. Ahh, thinking about the friendships formed in this little group makes me happy.

Rook has been Henrietta's friend since they were like eight, I think. His body is covered in horrible scars from being touched by one of the Ancients and Henrietta is the only person who treats him like he's still human. When she goes to London to train to be a commended sorcerer, she takes Rook with her. She doesn't ever want to be separated from him.

I liked Rook. But I don't really know what to think about something. I can see why he would follow Henrietta wherever she goes. They're great friends and she doesn't treat him like a monster. But throughout this novel, he seems to gain a little confidence and at one point seemed to want to go do something else away from her, but she talked him out of it and he obliged like a little lost puppy. Which, I guess in a way he kind of is, but just the way that exchange went seemed like he doesn't have any independent thoughts or something? That's probably not exactly the term I wanted, but something along those lines.

In the way of the romance, there isn't a terrible lot going on. There are several potential love interests, but I don't see the romance in this book as being a love triangle at all. I'm really torn on who I want her to end up with. I'm excited to see where the romance will go in the future of this series.

There was a little bit of history on the Ancients and how they came to be, but I'd really like to see more history in the rest of this series. Like on how or why it came to be that sorcerers were at the top of the magical food chain over magicians or witches. Usually world history in books makes my brain go numb and my eyes glaze over, but I think I would really enjoy it in this series.

Overall, I think that this was a decent read. I really enjoyed it. I liked Henrietta and the boys and I'm excited to see where the next book will take them in the fight against the Ancients!

Have you read this one yet? What did you think of it? Are you excited for it?


  1. Girl, we are twinning today! I reviewed this book today as well! I liked it, which surprised me a little because the publicist who emailed me about it pitched the book as having a "love square"... luckily that wasn't the case. :D I can't wait to read book two!

    Wonderful review, Cyra. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I don't think that that was a very good way to pitch a book! It's kinda deceiving!! I'm super excited for book two as well! More Blackwood!

  2. Great review! I'm super excited to try this out!

    Lauren @ Always Me

    1. I hope you love it when you get it! It's so good!

  3. I'm reading this one right now! Im enjoying the alternate universal and everyone's friendly banter. Rook is such a mystery to me!

    1. Rook really is a mystery! I hope we get to learn lots more about him in the next book. He's probably one of my favorite characters because I really want to hug him.

  4. I really loved this book, so I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it! I also think it's a fantastic debut and I can't wait for the sequel ^_^ Great review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. I need the sequel ASAP because I really want to know more about Rook and Blackwood. They're probably my favorites!


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