Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)

416 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Random House BFYR
Why did no one tell me this book was so amazing?!?  I picked it up on Tuesday and finished it on Friday.  The craziest part is I think this is a debut novel.  I usually spend time talking about some of the flaws I see in almost every debut (pacing, characterization of secondary characters, and world building), but I really don’t think I can with this one.
I thought the pacing was on point for most of the book, maybe a little quick in a few scenes, but overall great for the story being told.  As to world building, there were no major exposition dumps, and Jessica utilized action and dialogue to fill in some of the necessary missing pieces.  Characters were fantastic!  If you’re a fan of reverse harem anime, then you’ll find some great immature (and one or two mature) young males with limited knowledge or interaction with young ladies flitting around our main female lead.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the magic system.  It had a unique caste/tiered system that was well-explained and created an atmosphere that fit the story quite nicely.  I don’t want to ruin anything, so you’ll have to read to see for yourself.
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The relationships between the characters really built up suspense and wonder as the story built.  I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of teenage interactions, parental figures, and everything else that Jessica decided to include.  It gave the story and characters a depth that was compelling and makes me want more!  I really hope the sequel comes out soon 🙂
One last thought,  the main premise reminded me of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho.  They have very different journeys and end goals, but they share the first female magic wielder in  a long time picked up by an influential male magician who thinks she could change the country’s situation.  Also, there is no sexual content and minimal (if any) adult language for those who want to know about that.
I have planned an author interview post with Jessica Cluess, which will post very soon.  So don’t forget to check back.

Summary:

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?

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