A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess – A Dazzling Debut and a Fierce Female Protagonist

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Publisher: Random House
Source: Blogging For Books (Publisher Provided)
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Blogger | Goodreads | Wordpress
Genre: Fiction; Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Kingdom on Fire, 1
Rating: ★★★★

Making the best out of a bad situation is all that Henrietta Howel has ever known. She lives at a dark and dreadful school where the students are often mistreated, and even as a teacher, she is not immune from the terrible abuse. Her consolation is her best friend, Rook. A stable boy who’s scares label him one of the “unclear” that everyone fears and refuses to accept.

Everything spins on its axis when Nettie learns she’s the “chosen one,” the first female sorcerer in an ancient line.

From the first moment I saw its fierce cover art, I knew this was going to be a must read. The space between cover reveal and release date passed, and I forgot about its siren call. Never fear though, for this one kept cropping up in my Amazon shopping sprees (I cannot decide if it’s a good or creepy thing my shopping outlet knows me so well – sometimes better than myself), which kept this one firmly affixed in my mind. When I finally had the time to read them this one, I jumped at the chance.

Primarily, this is a book about magic and the sorcerers wielding power. As I’ve not read much in the genre, and my sorcerer novel count stands at zero (or that’s all that springs to mind), I can only judge this novel on its own merits. Put another way, using A Shadow Bright and Burning as contrast and compare isn’t something you’ll find in this review. Instead, inside these pages, there's an entertaining world full of rebels, fierce protectors, epic descriptions and worlds, and plenty of historical fanciness. As a period drama aficionado, I was entranced by this world. Its Victorian London setting is magical with plenty of glimpses of the worlds sitting outside the safety of the glamorous London lifestyle.

The characters too are complex, and humanized. Sadly, I cannot say too much lest it give away key plot points, but in a nutshell, I will say this, Nettie is surrounded by men. Men who inspire her to be better, tease her, accept her, betray her, and another still will inevitably break her heart. Which man goes with what action is up to you to discover inside the pages of this adventure. There is one point I feel is contradictory – or perhaps it’s meant to confuse? – but again, expanding would be all spoiler-y.

If you like magical (realism) realms, you’re sure to find adventure in A Shadow Bright and Burning

If you like strong emphasis on friendship, you’ll appreciate Nettie and Rook. 

If you like a host of cute guys, you’re going to swoon. 

If you like heroines with pluck, you’ll like Nettie. 

But enough with all the teasers, all that’s left is this. You're sure to become lost (in good ways) inside the dazzling world of fire, magic and romance. It’s worth reading, and furthermore, leaves us curious for its sequel, but not dangling off a cliff. That alone is an incentive. ♥

Synopsis: 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. – Amazon

Coming Next from Jessica Cluess, A Poison Dark and DrowningIn this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.

Henrietta doesn't need a prophecy to know that she's in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook's system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new
allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.- Goodreads, September 2017
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book. Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com 


  1. That cover art IS fierce! Thanks.

  2. This looks good! Thanks for reviewing this Rissi!

    1. Hi, Kara! Hope you enjoy if/when you do read this one - and it is good. I liked it more than I anticipated. :)

  3. So happy you enjoyed this one! It's been on my TBR for a while, but your review just bumped it up :)

    1. *bites nails* I hope you end up enjoying this one, Lindsey. I thought it was really entertaining and well written. Let me know what you think. :)


Have a thought? Don't be shy, go ahead and leave one... or two... or three! I reply to every comment. If you're new to the blog, please don't hesitate to introduce yourself and your blog - we love chatting around here!

Feedback and every comment is appreciated and read - I always leave a response; your opinions are respected and I ask that you show mine the same courtesy.

(If you post under “anonymous,” please leave a name. If you don't have a Google account, you can type your name into the Name/URL and if you have no site, just leave "URL" blank.)

If you are still reading my ramblings, thank you for following this little blog and for being one of its supporters. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you, friends!

Latest Instagrams

© Finding Wonderland. Design by FCD.