A Shadow Bright and Burning: {Review}

Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Series: Kingdom of Fire #1
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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?

Fantasy+Victorian England setting? Sign me up immediately! Plus, the cover is just gorgeous!  

Now, I'm going to start off by saying that some reviews say that this book "copies" other books such as Harry Potter, TMI, etc. I can kind of understand how they feel, because it doesn't feel like an original book, if that makes sense. It has the plot that many YA books have these days-a young woman has magical powers that could save the world. Ok, that's been done before, but that does not mean that the story still isn't worth reading. I for one, loved ASBaB.

Henrietta Howel is a teacher at a girls school, but she has a secret. She has fire abilities that if discovered, would mean her death. She tries so hard to keep her powers hidden, but when her best friend is threatened by some ancient demons, she is forced to reveal them in order to save him. But instead of being executed, she is brought to the home of acclaimed sorcerer, Master Agrippa, to be taught as the first female sorcerer in a long time. It is there that Henrietta meets young men that are also sorcerer's in training, including Lord Blackwood and Magnus. 

I wanted to love Henrietta, and I did for the majority of the book. She was strong and determined, and would not let anything bring her down, especially those around her who thought that women had no place in magic. The thing that annoyed me was how attached she was to Rook. I understand that they had grown up together, and that she was the only one who treated him like he was human, because of his Unclean label, but damn. Henrietta needed to stop babying him! Rook constantly expressed that he was capable of living his life without her but Henrietta kept telling him the opposite. She was so overbearing. I also understand that they were considered love interests, but I never felt that connection. I just only saw them as good friends. You know that expression, "If you truly love someone, let them go." Henrietta should have let him go!

There are allusions to a love triangle/love square, but that was something that I did not see. Yes, there are two characters that Henrietta was drawn/attracted to, and then a third that was introduced as a potential. But one character is shot down completely and there is no romance between the other two as the books ends. I can totally see one happening, and I hope that I am right. 

In terms of world building, Cluess did a wonderful job with the Victorian England fantasy setting. There is a magical wall that separates two sections of London, the poor area and the nice area inside the ward. Henrietta and Lord Blackwood struggle with the fact that the poor people outside of the ward are left to the Ancients mercy with no protection. The Ancients reminded me of the Greek Titans, because they were terrifying and deadly. We were told of some backstory of how and why they appeared in the world, but I would have appreciated more information into their past. I am hoping book two touches more on that. I also think we needed more insight as to why the sorcerers were on the top of the magical food chain as opposed to witches and magicians. 

Let's talk about Magnus. He was such a jerk from the get go. I was disappointed that Henrietta entertained good thoughts about him, because his arrogant nature would have definitely turned me off immediately. Then there was the instance where he saw that Henrietta was visibly drunk, so he took the opportunity to try and sleep with her! WHAT. Oh, and after she stopped him, he then took that opportunity to let her know that he was engaged to be married! I'm sorry, but no good "friend" would do something like that. Magnus was a huge asshat, plain and simple. 

So ok, I probably should end my review there because it was a lot of rambling. Sorry about that! I will finish with one final thought. I believe I know the true identity of R'hlem, so if you have read this book, let me know who you think that he is! 



  1. I typically like things set in modern day, but the cover of this is just so pretty. This sounds interesting, I might have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

    1. It is really beautiful! I love Victorian England settings, so this one was perfect for me. I hope you enjoy it if you read it. :)


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