Welcome to September Sunday Street Team! This month we are reviewing the debut by Jessica Cluess – A Shadow Bright and Burning!
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s 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?
About the Author:
JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.
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A Shadow Bright and Burning was only my TBR right after it was announced. This sounded like such a fantastic novel that I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on it. I’m happy to say that this book lived up to the hype. It was a quick read but an amazing read. I laughed, I gasped, I was on the edge of my chair, I was all over the place because the book is just that good.
Ancients, horrifying beasts with magic powers and unnatural talents, are plaguing England and only a special team of highly trained fighters can defeat them. Henrietta Howel finds herself thrust into this team of sorcerers carrying the burden of being “The Chosen One”. Henrietta fits the ancient prophecy of being the first female sorcerer in a hundred years. She is able to burn without being hurt and this is the advantage England needs to win the long battle against the Ancients. Henrietta trains and learns to fight along side the male sorcerers. She becomes very skilled at her craft. But as it turns out… Henrietta is not the chosen one. She plays a very dangerous game and walks a very thin line. She discovers the hard way that not everything is as simple as it seems, everyone has secrets to hide, and nothing is what it seems.
This debut novel by Jessica Cluess is brilliant. It is so much better than I could ever put into words. I hope the bookish world is ready for Cluess’ to be around for a long time because she deserves to be. My love for this story is so big. This story includes, but not limited to exciting displays of magic, horrifying beasts, first loves, uncovering of family secrets, complex characters, and so much more. This book really is the total package. This book hooked me from page one. I could not put this down until I reached the very last page, where I proceeded to cry because I would now have to wait for the next book in the series.
Our protagonist, Henrietta, was so complex and wonderfully developed that I wanted to be friends with her in real life. She was so well written that I couldn’t get enough of her. The rest of the characters were just as great. The male sorcerers that she trained with were hard not to love. Each one was so well thought out with distinct personalities that it is difficult to not have a favorite. The one thing I really enjoyed about all of these characters is that none of them were painted as either good or evil – it is left up to the reader to make their own decisions on that front. The character’s histories and pasts were given without showing favoritism. In the end, the reader is left stunned and wondering (in the best way possible) what is going on.
It is hard for me not to give spoilers for this book. So in order to not slip, I won’t say much more other than you need to read this book. I know if everyone reads it, they will enjoy it and understand what I am talking about. This story will grab you and never let go. Please, add to your TBR, borrow from a friend, beg your library to have it available, whatever you do – read this book.