Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Kingdom on Fire series
Release date: September 16th, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Length: 416 pages
Source: ARC from BEA16
Rating: I LOVE THESE PEOPLE SO MUCH. Hello, slump-buster.

Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied 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 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, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves? 

HI THERE. Before I start reviewing and whatnot, a few quick questions. Do you like:



--reversing the Chosen One trope

--plot twists


--shipping a lot

--continuing to ship

--still doing the ship thing

--yeah the answer is still ship

--I know what I am about

then I'm preeeeeetty sure you will love A Shadow Bright and Burning, one of the most fun fantasies I've read all year.

I feel like I need to start a new category for this book: slump buster. You see, I was slumping badly. I'm pretty sure I hadn't read a new book in like three weeks when Christina urged me to pick up ASBaB (my new favorite acronym, incididentally. Honestly, say it out loud. It will make your day). I'd read the first two chapters a couple months ago, and I was like, "It's good, but I'm kind of whelmed in that European way," and then Christina was like ARE YOU KIDDING WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. READ ONE MORE CHAPTER YOU IDIOT AND THAT IS WHERE SHE MEETS THE BOYS AND DOES THE SORCERER-ING.

So I read one more chapter, in which our plucky and hilarious heroine gets to London to learn how to be the chosen sorceror and EVERYTHING WONDERFUL HAPPENS EVER. Oh my god, these characters, and their beautiful banterelationships (it's a thing), and my feeeeeels.

Goodybe, slump. Hello, happiness.

THIS BOOK MADE ME SO HAPPY. It was everything my little heart wanted. I had such feelings about the characters like you would not BELIEVE. And though a few of the twists I totally predicted, A few of them I MOST ASSUREDLY DID NOT and was appropriately bowled over. This was just a big delicious fest, basically.

it's early in Victoria's reign in an alternate England with a reeeeeally bad monster problem (it's way more unique than that but also complicated so just read the book to understand). Henrietta is the only female sorcerer in, well, ever, and she's just been uprooted from her life to move to London and train with an entire pack of handsome boys--some very welcoming, some not welcoming at all but still very handsome and glowery and dark-haired and Darcy-esque and I'm sorry I have forgotten the purpose of this sentence. Basically, Henrietta is the Chosen One, the girl of the prophecy, blah blah neither can live while the other survives.

Except...oops. She's totally not. And then after that I'm not telling you anything.

This book would make the greatest anime or manga, mostly because of the reverse harem, which is a delicious plot device that more books should do where there are ust like a million boys around and it's a shipapalooza. Not a love triangle--a reverse harem. it's glorious. Embrace it. And then ship Blackwood with  me because you know that's the business.

This is the lease professional-sounding review ever, but this book reduced me to a gibbering mess. The dialogue is a SHEER DELIGHT. It's hilarious and zippy and bantery and wonderful. I got VERY INTENSE feelings from Henrietta bonding with various boys and Agrippa. I suppose my only negatives would be that this doesn't feel precisely very historical, but I have super high standards when it comes to that, and the prose isn't stand out amazing or anything. Oh, and I super don't care about Rook at all, except that Henrietta does and I adore Henrietta. But honestly, who cares about flaws? I was so invested I was losing my mind. The twists are intensely fun and dramatic, and the characters are so alive. Henrietta, MAGNUS MY LOVE, BLACKWOOD MY SWEET SON, and Hargrove are particular favorites.

I would follow Henrietta anywhere. I need the sequel so badly, oh my sweet god.


  1. Takes your quiz: OOOH I GOT A HUNDRED PERCENT. Who could have guessed?

    "incididentally" sounds like something Ned Flanders would say.

    banterelationships = love this

    "Goodybe, slump. Hello, happiness." THREE CHEERS FOR SHIP!

    Reverse harems for life. FOR LIFE.

  2. So, what you're saying is... I need to read this book. Duly noted, taken under advisement and will be happening sooner rather than later because A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING sounds like a delight!


  4. This book was so AWESOME! Easily my favorite Fantasy of the year so far.

  5. Shoot.

    Shoot, I need this.


    Oh no.

  6. You kill me, Gillian. Your reviews make me laugh *every time*! this sounds really up my alley, and banterelationships should totally be a word people use because it's fab!!!
    You just made me add this to my TBR, girl!

  7. Sounds like my kind of book!!

  8. This book seems soooo interesting! My TBR is growing every day....!!!!

  9. K being a creepster but I was commenting on another post and saw this on the side bar and was like OH DID I EVER READ GILLIAN'S REVIEW. So here I am. 100% on the quiz YOU ARE SO SURPRISED. Team Blackwood forever and ever, amen, give me the sequel. I love your "unprofessional" reviews :D


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