Thursday, September 22, 2016

ARC Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire (Book 1)
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 20, 2016)

Description: I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen 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 Howel 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, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

My Thoughts: Henrietta Howel is an orphan, abandoned by her aunt, at a grim school in Yorkshire. Her main friend is a servant boy named Rook who is considered Unclean because he was attacked by one of the Ancients and survived. Henrietta has a secret: she has control of fire. Unfortunately, that could make a her witch and witches are executed it discovered. But Henrietta is discovered by a sorcerer who decides that she is the promised one in some prophecy that will bring about the defeat of the Ancients.

She and Rook are taken to his home in London where she will be trained to become a sorcerer and defend England from the Ancients. She is the only female to be in training which means that there are lots of male sorcerers and trainees who deeply resent her. She does manage to make a friend of one of her fellow trainees but she has a mixed relationship with most of the others. Her most troubling relationship is with Lord Blackwood who is another trainee. Her school was under his protection but she had never met him.

Henrietta isn't a very successful trainee until she meets a magician who knew her father. Magicians need to work in secret because they, along with the witches, are blamed for allowing the Ancients into the world. The magician tells her that her father was also a magician and that she has powers from both the magician line and the sorcerer line. She needs to keep this a secret because magicians are killed when caught.

This was an engaging fantasy with interesting worldbuilding. Henrietta was also a fascinating character. I really liked her loyalty to her friend Rook. I liked the way she built relationships with her fellow trainees. I can't wait to read the next in this interesting series.

Favorite Quote:
"Seven are the Ancients, seven are the days,
Monday for R'hlem, the Skinless Man,
On-Tez on Tuesday, the old Vulture Lady,
Callax is Wednesday, the Child Eater,
Zem the Great Serpent crisps Thursday with his breath, 
On Friday fear Korozoth, the Shadow and Fog,
Never sail on Saturday say Nemneris the Water Spider,
And rain on Sunday brings Molochoron the Pale Destroyer."

When I'd finished, Agrippa applauded.

"Very nice," he said. "Not much of a rhyme, though."
I got this one for review at NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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