Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

asbabTitleA Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, book 1)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Pages: 416
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Genre: YA, Fantasy
SummaryI 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?

TRB Review – 4/5

A refreshing spin on fantasy, sorcery and magic with fantastically developed characters, terrifying monsters, and an absolutely stunning war-wreaked world! This book was very well written which is such an exciting thing to see from a debut author.

I was immediately absorbed into Henrietta Howel’s extraordinary life. Jessica Cluess has a special way of writing that draws you near to her characters and drops you off in the center of the world that she’s created. Henrietta, or “Nettie,” is likable from the first page and her POV is very interesting throughout the book. She’s 16 so there’s quite a bit of teenage angst and drama, more emotional than anything else but we’ve all been there so it’s at the least relatable. For being so young, Nettie is fairly mature (except for the love triangle thing, I’ll get to that) and very strong willed, both characteristics that I like to see in leading ladies. Rook, Nettie’s best friend who is called an “Unclean” because he was touched/wounded by the Ancient Ones, is a bit of a mystery. They have an obvious connection, but his history isn’t put into much detail and he becomes more elusive as the story proceeds.

As for the love triangle situation – that portion became a bit annoying to me after awhile. The main character is a teenage girl without much worldly experience so of course I expected some of the theme to surface. In retrospect though, she just seemed confused and love sick about too many young gentleman and there were parts that I didn’t even think necessary to feed the story. Perhaps these little side romances and bubbly feelings will develop or lead to more interesting sub-plots in the sequel(s), but for now they felt a bit forced.

This was a quick read for me because I was constantly enthralled by the plot twists and various things that were happening to the characters, I couldn’t put it down! Especially toward the end, if you haven’t read this yet but plan to OH JUST YOU WAIT!! I did not expect the story to take the turn that it did, which made the last 50 pages or so such a blur since I couldn’t read fast enough! Cluess’s style of writing is such a delight, I’ll just be sitting here twiddling my thumbs until the next book comes out!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

jessica-cluess-author-img 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.

Bio retrieved from author’s website.

You can also connect with Jessica via Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr!

If you haven’t already added this book to your TBR list, now’s the time!
It can be purchased from any of your favorite retailers below:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and Penguin Random House


What is your favorite type of YA fiction/fantasy? I am not huge on magic and sorcery, I prefer dragons and knights but love to get my hands on just about anything! Comment below and share some of your favorite reads with us!


2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

  1. Awesome review! I’ve definitely had this book on my TBR for quite some time and I mean…just look at that cover!! I love YA fantasy books – especially any type that has Royal Intrigue like Red Queen or magic like in The Burning Sky. I don’t think I’ve really read anything that had dragons and knights in it, so you’ll definitely have to recommend some to me!


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