Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Amazon Vine
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?
Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.
The best description for A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is in the Acknowledgments: Victorian Cthulu Harry Potter. I saw that when I finished the book, and yeah, that’s a great way to describe it.
Jessica Cluess takes a bunch of tropes and cliches and builds off them, turning tired old stuff into a fun, well-written series starter. I read A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING in a day, absorbed by the author’s besieged London and Henrietta.
Because a witch was partly responsible for summoning the Ancients who are trying to destroy England, female witches are now executed. Henrietta’s hidden her magic abilities her entire life, but when she saves her best friend’s life, a sorcerer sees it. But instead of being killed, Henrietta’s whisked away to be trained as a sorcerer. Female sorcerers don’t exist, but it’s prophesied that one will defeat the Ancients.
There’s only one problem: Henrietta’s living a lie. She knows she isn’t the Chosen One.
One of the things I liked the most about A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is there’s not a lot of romance. There’s a little there, but I was really worried this book would slide into love triangle or even love quadrangle territory, given that Henrietta’s fellow students are all male. Sure, one of them tries, and the banter is fun, but I so, so appreciated that the author didn’t turn the book into a romance with a light side of fantasy. No, Henrietta remembers what’s at stake.
The book did lag a bit for me in the middle, and I was tired of the misogynistic attitude of some sorcerers. Not to mention the whole blaming all witches for the Ancients when a male magician was also responsible. I also don’t know why the Ancients are trying to take England for their own, but I’m guessing that will come up in the next book.
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