A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
A Shadow Bright and Burning
A Kingdom of Fire Series #1
by Jessica Cluess
On Sale Date: September 20, 2016
Young Adult Fiction \ Fantasy
Random House Books for Young Readers, 416 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars
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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?
What happens when you create a story set in an alternate Victorian London beset by a group of demons known as the Ancients, think Lovecraftian creatures, add in some sorcerers and magicians along with the darker side of the Fae, and give readers a feisty heroine who is "the prophesied one" only - she may just not be, and you have the makings of an exciting new YA fantasy series with plenty of twists!
Filled with rich world building A Shadow Bright And Burning offers a beguiling setting of a darkly reimagined London plagued by seven Ancients entities terrorizing it. Here you'll find hobgoblins and sharp-toothed dressmakers, tentacles and skinless walkers ... even a magical stave called 'porridge.' And, in the midst of this fine setting is our heroine, Henrietta Howel who can burst into flames, who may or may not be a sorcerer, but who makes a fine heroine regardless.
When we first meet Henrietta she is forced to reveal her power to save her best friend Rook, a power that would brand her a witch ... witches are burned. Rather to her surprise, she is hailed the chosen one, the girl prophesized to take back England from the demon hoard, whisked off to be trained for Her Majesty's royal sorcerers. There she meets fellow sorcerer trainees, young men who will test her powers and even her heart.
There is a lot to enjoy in this first installment in Jessica Cluess' new series the Kingdom of Fire. The protagonist Henrietta is easy to like. Resilient, her fierce, inner strength shines even when not accompanied by magic, rather it is her plucky attitude and fierce desire to do right that we can admire.
Secondary characters and possible love interests are built with care and layered. There is one magician that nearly steals the show with his flamboyant personality while others quietly unfurl and reveal themselves. Friendship, romance, challenges, and betrayals are skillfully built into the story.
Recommended to YA readers who enjoy fierce, magical battles and strange, fantastical monsters, all set in a wonderfully realized dark, Victorian world. Henrietta Howel is an upcoming and exciting new heroine to follow.
Thank you to the wonderful people at Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy of the book for review.
About Jessica Cluess
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.