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416 pages, Library Binding
First published September 20, 2016
“Now, listen, Miss Howel. I’ve never seen another girl who could do what you’ve done, and I’ve searched for four years. I’ve never met another sorcerer who could burn and walk away unscathed.”
Granted, Rook was attractive, with sharp, elegant features and blue eyes. His hair was still the same flaxen down it had been when we were eight. He looked like a poet or a gentleman, I’d always thought, even if he was only a stable boy.
“The pain of losing Porridge, the mere idea of it, threatened to crush me."
“I find a dash of insolence to be quite enjoyable from time to time.”
Buddy-read with my special girls ( no pun here; they are really special and, though, they don't have magical powers, they'd kick any special snowflake's ass easily) Katerina & Vira. Also, please, go read my friend Mila's review to see a more positive and well-structured point of view on the book.
“How I do what I do, but not how to do what I do? What if what I do has to do with my knowledge of what to do, and doing requires only the knowledge of doing? What would you do then?”
“I believe you hurt my brain.”
I wouldn't say this book had hurt my brain, and there's no particular reason for displaying this quote above, I just liked it. That's it. Why can't I make something special, because I want to? I take an example from the author. Special snowflakes everywhere!
Special snowflake fact one: gosh, why does this book reminded me so much of almost every fantasy book I've ever read or heard of? Two major deja vu: Shadow & Bone and Harry Potter. The book started very similar to the first one, and in the middle turned into the second one. Plus add to the list an Infernal Devices, The Burning Sky and even Angelfall! And it's not the whole list! If only I paid closer attention, I'd find more, but I started skipping pages after 30% and missed some
Special snowflake fact two: the story in nothing new, though it filled with specialness (which I'll explain later). I wouldn't say the writing was bad - it was pretty decent; the story itself had some curious twists and turns, but somehow all this was annihilated by the heroine's dullness. I didn't feel life behind her voice. And to think about spending the whole book in her head, you'd hope there would be something to hold on to. But no such luck. It felt as if we were told about the world around in a mechanic manner: here we have magicians; they are bad guys. Here we have sorcerers; they are good guys. Here we have a special girl who will save the world. Here we have six guys and two of them will kiss the ground the heroine walks on. Here we have a childhood friend. She didn't have feelings for him before, except a sisterly bond, but now her heart flutters every time she sees him. Gosh, I wish you's just had a orgy, guys. But no, here we have a reputation to uphold.
I need to stop doing such writing or I'll bore myself to sleep. The point is - scattered facts and underdeveloped pieces turned this book into a porridge (pun intended as the heroine's magical stave is called Porridge. The girl named it herself. Wanted to feel special).
Special snowflake fact three: the author turned every potentially interesting character into a sniveling lot, and made the ones who were supposed to be unimportant into special snowflakes I wouldn't mind a change in characters if it was done gradually and properly, not because the author just wanted to move the plot forward at whatever cost.
Special snowflake fact four: Did you read the annotation? Remember those words:
As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one.
Maybe it's my fault, because I saw in these words what I wanted to see, and the more disappointed I was. I wanted a girl who was prophesied to be the one and only, but turned out the wrong person, and in order to prove herself she's worth something, she fights evil with ordinary magicians like herself, and on her path she makes mistakes, falls in love, develops friendships and so on. You can create an amazing character-development from such setting. But look what we've got in this book: a girl is prophesied to be the savior. She goes to train her specialness. Everyone strokes her ego - the girl can't go to toilet without anyone mentioning how important and special she is, even bathtubs sing serenades to her. Slowly she turns from pretty to beautiful, smart, brave, delicate, strong, powerful... Then turns out she's not the girl from the prophesy (here I almost exhaled in relief - almost). She's better. She has powers from both sides, and who needs a sorcerer savior when you can have a magician-sorcerer savior. Special offer: two for the cost of one. Even the skeptic ones bow to her now.
“I'm a mix of both races, but I was born a magician. You have to know the truth." My heart pounded as I waited for his reply.
He was silent a moment. Then he said, "We need you. That's what is important. The rest is titles." Gently, he took my hand in his own. It wasn't a romantic gesture; it was deeper than that. We sat side by side, our burdens eased, if not lifted.”
Who cares about fucking titles, when there's such specialness involved! The years-long hatred toward magicians is forgotten, and even her Majesty Queen says the kingdom needs our special snowflake, and lets her decide which title to give herself: A special magician snowflake or a special sorcerer snowflake. Guess what the girl chose? Of course, the prophesy must be about her and if not, she'll make it about her, so we have a new sorcerer snowflake!
I don't know about you, but all this special business is rather dull. Plus, I can predict which major events are going to happen in book two, and I don't even need special powers for it. The story tried to be as dodgy as possible, and every time someone tried to say something important, things happened: someone interrupted, or the one, who was supposed to say the thing, vanished, and so one. But these tricks were more annoying than intriguing, and felt like author's desperate attempt at preserving readers' interest at any cost. I didn't give a damn about any of them. I'll probably read the spoilers, shrug and move on to something more exciting.
Special snowflake verdict: A Shadow Bright and Burning is not a bad book; if you haven's read thousands upon thousands of books about special girls and boys, you'll probably like this one. As for me, I am too jaded and too bored to buy something with words "special" in it. Just give me ordinary and make it unique, and I am yours for fangirling.
4.5 out of 10
“Knowledge is as powerful as fire. The brighter it burns, the more it devours.”
— A Shadow Bright and Burning (Ярко горящая тень) #1/3["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
— Untitled (Без названия) #2/3
— Untitled (Без названия) #3/3
Orphaned Henrietta Howel has a gift: the ability to light herself on fire. In an alternate Victorian England where men can be magicians and sorcerers but women shouldn’t be, her gift must be kept hidden. But one day a sorcerer comes to the school where she grew up and now teaches, discovers her ability, and tells her of a prophecy that says a magical girl will save England from the Ancients, seven demons that hold the land and coastal seas under their malevolent power. He takes Henrietta to London to study with the boys he’s training. But is she really the prophesied one … or is she just a fluke and a fraud?This book starts out feeling a bit bog-standard. Magical orphan? Yeah, been there, done that. Henrietta’s friend Rook, whose scars twinge when the Ancient who caused them is near? Also a bit familiar. A magical Victorian England -- seems like I’ve been there before, too. So at the beginning of the story, I was not that into it, and if I’d been carrying around any other book at the time, I might have DNF’d this one.