Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire, #1

Publication:September 20th 2016 by Random House BFYR


Goodreads Description:

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

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is 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?


My thoughts:

I enjoyed A Shadow Bright and Burning a fair bit, it was a slower read but definitely an engaging one. The Victorian London setting gave off The Infernal Devices vibes so I was hooked pretty early on but what really got me was the world building and big cast of characters. 

The plot is pretty slow for the most part so it did take me a long time to read and it didn't help that I was finding it hard to concentrate because at the time when I read this I hadn't been able to read for long periods of time in weeks. The slow plot does pick up towards the end but for most of the book it just plods along at a decent pace.

The slow plot was partly because of all the world building going on. There was lots of foundations set up in this first book which makes me think book 2's plot will be less bogged down with information. I really enjoyed learning about the world though; there was some very interesting magic- there were sorcerers, magicians and witches with a very interesting hierarchy between the three. It was also really cool how the magic works-the sorcerers use a stave and then magicians have items. It was very different and I liked that. There was also a lot of mythology background given about these demons that are called Ancients who are wreaking havoc on the world which reminded me of some other series.

The main character Henrietta was fun to read about even if I didn't agree with a lot of what she was doing. I really enjoyed the take on the chosen one trope and how she was constantly doubting herself.


There was such a big cast of characters which was great. There is so much possibilities for love interests it's so interesting. It can go in so many directions which is different to most YA books where you can obviously pick out who the author intends the main character to end up with. There are the boys who take her in (one is such a fun character, he is a YA stereotype with sarcastic witty comments and all arrogance but I loved it! And then there is one who she hates at the starts and grudgingly starts to like him like the reader. And then there is another potential male lead but I hated him- I could not understand why Henrietta liked him.)

One of the things I have to complain about was the lack of female characters. There was only Henrietta, Lilly her maid, one of the boys sisters (who we only interact with for 2 pages) and then the queen (who we also only see for a few pages). I would have liked to see more girls.


The setting of Victorian London (if you are looking for something similar to TID give A Shadow Bright and Burning a go) was good but I felt like parts weren't very historically accurate. Henrietta's behaviour was very modern, I get that she was written in 2016 but I had expected the other characters to pull her up on her behaviours but it was never mentioned.

Overall I had fun learning about this new world and can see lots of potential for future books so I will definitely be picking up book 2!

Thanks for reading,

A :)

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