Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

A Shadow Bright and Burning
By Jessica Cluess
Published: September 20, 2016

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?

My review:

In this alternate fantasy version of London, magic is off limits to women so Henrietta has to keep her abilities a secret lest she be killed as a witch. When her friend Rook is in danger, she uses her ability with fire to save his life but she is seen by the sorcerer Agrippa. Henrietta is sure this is the end for her but Agrippa believes she is not a witch but the sorceress that is prophesied to save them. Instead of death, Henrietta has the opportunity to train in magic. She loves her newfound freedom and the ability to learn though things don't come to her as easily as they should. Unfortunately Henrietta discovers she isn't a sorceress but a magician, something anathema and illegal. She has to keep this a secret but everyone is depending on her to save them from the Ancients.

Prior to reading this book I read some mixed reviews. Some people loved it while others derided it as derivative of other YA fantasy novels or disliked all the "love interests". I was hesitant about reading it but decided to give the book a try anyway and I'm so glad I did. I like that the author chose to write a character that wasn't the "chosen one" and to show the challenges she faced not only in trying to live up to expectations but also because she wanted to do her part to stop the Ancients. While there are some hints of romance (one character claims to be in love with her while she seems to have feelings for another), I didn't really see a "love triangle".  

A Shadow Bright and Burning reminded me of The Burning Sky and other books in the Elemental Magic series by Sherry Thomas. I loved The Burning Sky so that is high praise from me. I thought the world that Jessica Cluess created was interesting and I hope to learn more in the next book. I would suggest this book to fans of The Burning Sky and other similar YA fantasy.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. I'm always on the hunt for a great YA fantasy and after reading your review, I think I will add this one to the TBR list. I'm glad there wasn't a traditional love triangle in this book and that this book didn't disappoint! Great review!

  2. OH wow. This book sounds amazing, I hadn't even looked at the synopsis on goodreads because I must have thought that it was another book? I don't know, the cover looked might familiar aha. The way you've described it makes me NEED this book, the difference between magicians, witches and sorcerers sounds really interesting!

  3. Hi! I had to come over to see your blog after I got your comment on mine. :)

    This book caught my attention, even though I haven't heard of it before. Magic in Victorian London? I'll take it! :) Great review.


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