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A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One) Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Sixteen-year-old Henrietta Howel has the power to burst into flames. She believes that she will be executed when she comes forward to defend a friend; instead she is invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers, among whom Henrietta is the only female. The heroine struggles to combat the enchantment of Victorian London, even though her male classmates wish to fight against her. With humanity at risk, Henrietta discovers the secrets of others and her own strength while she tries to defeat the Ancients, terrorizing demons. Readers who enjoy books about magic, fantastical monsters, and forces of good and evil will not be able to put this first installment down. While Cluess's debut novel might be reminiscent of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter," it features a protagonist who proves to be more than just a chosen one with a wand. The work has well-developed secondary characters, including Rook, Henrietta's childhood friend, and while the author takes time to introduce readers to the heroine and her new surroundings, she keeps the adventure moving at a good clip. VERDICT Fantasy fans will rejoice and impatiently await the second volume in this new series.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
"Is it clear that Cluess adores the Harry Potter series and Jane Eyre? Yes. So do you. So does everyone. What matters is that her voice is her own. . . . A Shadow Bright and Burning delivers on the promise of its title. This is a novel that gives off light and heat."
—The New York Times
"Henrietta is pragmatic and bitingly funny, and she more than holds her own in a man’s world. Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Jessica Cluess manages to hook the reader on the very first page. . . . The pages turn quickly and this first installment in the story is over before the reader will want it to be. The ending is perfect, too. Just enough of a conclusion to be satisfying, but also enough mystery to make readers anxious to see the next installment. Lovely debut novel by a talented writer."
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Top customer reviews
My Rating: 4 Stars
Thus far, the month of December has been good to me! I haven’t read a single book that I didn’t enjoy. A Shadow Bright and Burning was no exception. While there were a couple of things that I didn’t love, as a whole I found the book to be a fantastic start to a series I look forward to continuing.
Henrietta is a great heroine – she is confident in herself without being cocky, strong willed without being rude, and her inner-dialogue has a way of endearing her to her readers. I felt as though the story were being told to me by a good friend with a gift for words. While I liked her as a narrator, the book was really made for me by the supporting characters.
As I wrote in the last review I posted, I have a weakness for men named Magnus – the Magnus in this book is certainly no exception. Although Henrietta may have found Magnus annoying upon their first meeting, I was immediately smitten. He is a light and witty character and acted as much needed comedic relief. As the book progressed, he also proved himself to be a dedicated warrior and a fiercely loyal friend. He may not have been my favorite secondary character, but he was definitely a close second.
Henrietta’s introduction to Blackwood may not have been ideal, (alright, it was about as far from ideal as humanly possible) but, I liked the way that Cluess wrote their relationship progression. He certainly didn’t start out as my favorite character, but by the end of the book, I found myself wishing that he were Henrietta’s romantic interest. I also loved not only his relationship with his sister, but her relationship with Henrietta. Compared to the tightly laced Blackwood, she was a breath of fresh air.
I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 for a couple of different reasons. It was clear from the beginning of the book that Rook was a major part of Henrietta’s life and would play a large part in her story as well. However, I felt as though he didn’t get enough actually time in the story. He and Henrietta had such a deep, and loving relationship, but I never quite got to see how it developed. There was only one flashback to their childhood and it was at the end of the book. Their other interactions were rife with tension that seemed to come from out of nowhere. I understood why Rook began to pull away, but where did Henrietta’s sudden feelings come from? At the start of the book, before they go to London, their friendship seems so normal. As soon as they reach London – BAM – tension. It made sense that Rook felt disconnected or not good enough for Henrietta given the change in her station, but there was never any indication of romantic feelings between them before they made the trip.And what kind of love does Henrietta feel for him? Friend love? Family love? Romantic love? I couldn’t tell, and the author never clarified.
The only other part of the book that gave me pause, was the betrayal. The character by whom Henrietta was betrayed didn’t even seem to be a major part of her life. He was mentioned only in passing a few times, with no noteworthy interactions prior to his betrayal. I was expecting one of her inner circle to be the person to turn against her and was honestly surprised at how small a part it played in the overall plot (especially given its mention in the book’s blurb).
My Takeaway: As a whole, A Shadow Bright and Burning was a fast read with an original premise. With the exception of a few minor details, I found the plot to be well thought out, the characters endearing, and the narration by Henrietta well done. I look forward to the next book in the series!
In a world where magic is outlawed, having the ability to create fire is dangerous and not being able to keep it hidden could mean death. But with an ability that is hard to control when angry or upset, Henrietta Howel knows she won’t be able to keep her secret for long. Not when everything the headmaster does causes her hands to burst into flames.
And when her secret is revealed at last, she thought she’d be taken to London to be imprisoned or executed. She never imagined that it would be to train with other sorcerers, that she was a sorcerer, that she could be the prophesied one. Or that she could be something else.
With the Ancients wreaking havoc and getting closer than ever before to defeating the sorcerers and with even more more to lose, Henrietta will have to find a way to master her ability, learn to harness all sorcerer powers, and keep all of her secrets from coming to light. A near insurmountable feat at best, but with threats from within and without, her attempt to succeed may just be futile.
Jessica Cluess spun a tale that will make readers fall in love with her characters, their abilities, their world. She created the perfect blend of action, suspense and spellbinding magic. She delivered frightening and gruesome enemies, charming and mysterious sorcerers, along with moments of humor, horror and adorableness, making A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING an absolute must read.
I loved the idea of differences between magicians and sorcerer. Their habits and life style differences was super fascinating. I like the story line and the direction it's headed. I do find myself wanting to see what happens next. But.......
Definitely not worth the price. If it was an actual paper book then sure. This book had so much promise to me. I felt so many things could have been expanded on. The end battle scene was super short... literally a single paragraph describing a death of something talked about vaguely in pieces the entire book.
I didn't feel any strong connection to any of the characters.. there so many men that have small parts and when they get brought up again it's hard to remember their relevance..
Am I the only one who saw a lot of similarities to the book "Howls moving castle?"
It's a good read but once again not for the price I paid for kindle version:$9.99
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