Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#Wednesday Review - A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess #YALit #Fantasy @JessCluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire # 1
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House BYR
Source: Library 
Genre: YA, Fantasy

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
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 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?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding first book in the Kingdom on Fire series introduces a powerful, unforgettable heroine and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is the first installment in author Jessica Cluess' Kingdom on Fire series. The story is set to the background of early Victorian England when the Queen was still fairly young. In this alternative world, there are SEVEN dangerous Ancients who are at war with England. A Shadow Bright and Burning introduces readers to 16-year old Henrietta Howel. After saving her best friend from Ancient familiars, Henrietta worst nightmare comes true when she is discovered by a royal sorcerer named Master Agrippa.

Thinking she is about to be executed due to the fact that woman are not allowed to have or use magic, Agrippa instead shocks her. Agrippa tells her she may be the prophesied one to finally defeat the Ancients who England has been at war with for over a decade. Henrietta is spirited away from the girls school where she was a teacher, to England where she is to be trained and introduced to Queen Victoria herself. Henrietta finds herself living in a house filled with Incumbent boys Julian Magnus, Lord Blackwood, Arthur Dee, Clarence Lambe, and Isaac Wolf. 

Henrietta has the unique ability to burst into flames without burning herself. She will later learn to use other abilities as well, but it is the fire ability that makes her the most dangerous. I actually loved the plot twist, and no I won't divulge it. If you like, there are plenty of hints other places. Henrietta's real issue is how to pass the Imperator's test and be allowed to be royally commentated as a sorcerer. Oh, and let's not forget about the pesky Ancient who takes a keen interest in her, or those betrayals just waiting to pop up and floor you. 

The obvious question for anyone reading this would be, well, is this a love triangle, or not? I dare say not. I say not because of Rook, Henrietta's "unclean" best friend. A best friend who suffers greatly after being injured by one of the ancients. Rook and Henrietta have been close for years. They are so close, that any potential love interest would only be spinning their wheels until either Rook or Henrietta chooses to move on with someone else. While one could say that Marcus would be one interest, he is also a well traveled ladies man.

My only headaches about this story was the author leading us on several times over. Just when Henrietta is about to learn something, someone interrupts. Just when Henrietta is going to find out about her father, bam, change of story, and it is left unanswered. Will the author sew up this particular question in the sequel? I do hope so. My other curiosity is about Rook. We've seen so many characters recently go dark, I am curious if that is the intent of the author as well. 

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