{Book Review} A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

{Book Review} A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica CluessA Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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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 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?

You’ve probably seen this one around the blog-o-sphere; it’s getting some pretty good pre-release marketing and blogger hype. It didn’t live up to the hype for me, alas, but I think it will satisfy many readers.

5 Rambles about A Shadow Bright and Burning and why it didn’t live up the hype:

  1. The world building starts off strong, which had me devouring the first 10% or so. Cluess has a really good foundation here that involves really creepy monsters (that had me thinking back to Daughter of Smoke and Blood a little bit), faeries (WHERE DID THIS GO? the second it was introduced it disappeared, and we didn’t hear anything else about it), and mildly interesting magic, but the execution becomes tired and boring after the first few chapters.
  2. Mildly interesting magic might even be too high of praise. I’m not saying every magic system has to be brilliant and original and the shining star of all magic systems, but A Shadow Bright and Burning spent an enormous amount of time with Henrietta trying to learn magic, and none of it was very interesting. The entire middle section of the book was spent watching Henrietta attempting basic things like “light this candle on fire using your mind”. That would be ok if it didn’t go on for multiple chapters.
  3. Henrietta was not interesting to me. She’s living in a fairly sexist world, but she’s neither meek nor strong willed. She’s just kind of…there. All of the guy characters (and there are a few of them) were more interesting to me, but of course we see them far less because the book is written from Henrietta’s POV. Plus, she seemed like kind of an idiot. One of her friends has negative changes to their character (that she definitely notices), and she’s not the least bit perturbed. It was annoying and rather unbelievable. I understand a character making dumb decisions, especially if they’re inexperienced, but Henrietta just kind of had dumb thoughts which was exasperating to read.
  4. Magnus and Blackwood were good characters; I enjoyed them and their respective dialogue and banter. It didn’t really feel like a love triangle which was good. Magnus was quite entertaining while Blackwood was dynamic and dark. Again, both far more interesting than Henrietta.
  5. And then there’s Rook, Henrietta’s long time friend. I’ve seen some good reviews of Rook, but he just felt like a robot to me. I couldn’t connect with him at all and I don’t really get why Henrietta did either.

It’s a shame really because I’ve read predominantly good reviews of this one. But, as I always say, not every book is for me. That being said, I do think plenty of people will enjoy this book. I just wasn’t one of them. Marking this one, unfortunately, as DNF at 67%.

Reading Challenges: 2016 Good Reads Challenge (Book 46 of 75), 2016 NetGalley Challenge (Book 18 of 25).

Content: 14+, pretty creepy monsters, violence, peril. Didn’t get to any romance, so not sure what to rate for that.



2 Stars

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