A Shadow Bright and Burning Book Review


By: Jessica Cluess

YA Fiction

416 pages

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?

Completion: To be perfectly honest, I only made it 106 pages in. Of course, this is partially my fault because I only read the book summary and thought it was high fantasy when really it is historical fantasy. On the other hand, there were elements of this book that kept me from reading the rest that I will describe in more detail below.

Writing/Style: The writing is functional but does nothing to sweep me off my feet. Even though it is written in first person, I felt very distant from the main character.

Characters: I hate to say this, but Henrietta, the main character, is dull and generic. She is an orphan  with a childhood best friend who inevitably likes as more than a friend. Sadly, the other characters are not much better, lacking charm and originality.

Plot/Pacing: The plot and book summary rely far too heavily on the twist that Henrietta is not the chosen one. The pacing is not horrible but feels a lot slower because I was not invested or interested in the characters.

World-building/Atmosphere: The story takes place in historical England (although I could not tell you what specific time period the author was aiming for). As I said earlier, I was not in the mood for a historical fantasy story so this did not endear me to it, but it also didn’t take it out of the running. In my opinion, there just wasn’t enough realism of the time period to ground the story nor was there enough creativity with melding historical London with the fantasy elements.

Sub-genres (Romance, Humor, Mystery, etc.): As of where I stopped, there was no romance although I definitely could tell who was being set up as love interests. Humor-wise, we are left with Magnus and the occasional comeback by Henrietta, but none of this really landed a big laugh from me, only mild amusement at most.


FINAL VERDICT: A Shadow Bright and Burning is story I probably would have enjoyed more as a younger teen. Perhaps the story picks up later on; however, from what I saw of the writing, characters, and plot, this is a novel that will only serve a niche audience.


*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


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