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A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1) | Jessica Cluess

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess, January 2017, Penguin Random House, RRP$19.99 AUD

Synopsis

“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 terrorising 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?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Penguin Random House, in exchange for an honest review.

Please Note: all opinions are mine and are not endorsed with any company or organization. 

Review

Setting.

Historical fantasy set in one of favourite eras? How could I possibly resist? I loved the setting of Regency London, but I wish I had seen more of the historical play into the narrative, other than the protagonist occasionally worrying about her reputation. Also, the demons are AWESOME.

Characters.

Henrietta was great as far as protagonists go: she is feisty, she is a heroine who defies the imposed gender roles of her patriarchal society, and she won’t let anyone mess with her friends. One of the things I loved most about this book is that even though Henrietta is the stereotypical YA orphaned protagonist, there is still an element of family with an amazing father-daughter type relationship between her and her mentor. I also loved all the boys—not necessarily as individual characters, although they are all interesting and unique—but as a group and their comradery and especially their attitude towards Henrietta. And Rook, ah, he melts my heart!

Plot.

Was a little predictable at times, but I loved the twist on the ‘chosen one’ trope. I was super invested in Henrietta and the journey she took was gripping and made for some great character development. I really enjoyed the battle scenes and I thought they were amazing for a debut author! I found the gender aspect interesting, as were the other aspects of discrimination and I felt the book addressed some important issues.

Writing.

I read this book in one day…

5/5

I can’t wait for the sequel, A Poison Dark and Drowning!

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