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Kingdom on Fire #3

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling

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"A pinch of Potter blended with a drop of [Cassandra Clare's] Infernal Devices." -- JUSTINE MAGAZINE

"Plot twists so good they will leave you reeling."
-- TRACI CHEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader


As Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Lord Blackwood, she discovers that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven from the bloodthirsty Ancients. It's a trap. So with her friend Maria and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy's lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. The fate of the kingdom rests on her Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

Praise for Jessica Cluess's A Shadow Bright and Burning, Kingdom on Fire, Book 1:

"This is a novel that gives off light and heat." -- The New York Times

"Vivid characters, terrifying monsters, and world building as deep and dark as the ocean."
-- VICTORIA AVEYARD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Q ueen

"Devastatingly magical and monstrously romantic."
-- STEPHANIE GARBER, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

"Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world's best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!"
-- TAMORA PIERCE, #1 New York Times bestselling author

409 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 16, 2018

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Jessica Cluess

8 books1,392 followers

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5 stars
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53 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 456 reviews
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.7k followers
April 14, 2020
TW: some brief blood magic

The thing that ultimately did the finale in was the pacing. This series could have easily been 4 books. There were so many plot points and themes that were significant and needed more time. I liked a lot of what this book did, but it didn’t have room to breathe and sit with the significance of what was happening. Even the many romantic subplots, although ultimately wrapped up wonderfully in a way I didn’t expect, still didn’t have enough TIME. Sadly, this made this finale a bit of a disappointment even though I love what it attempted. It is darker than so many books that tried to do a similar thing, and I appreciate that.
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
544 reviews224 followers
October 26, 2018
It’s astonishing how you love reading a book but when you sit down and think about it for a second you realize that it sucked a lot. Like W-O-W. I loved reading this but it also angered, annoyed and disgusted me, none of the three are positive feelings. How then could I have possibly enjoyed reading it? IDK.

I do not mark spoilers.

I can give this series credit for its consistency at least. I’ve felt the same way about all three books as all three had the same quirks and problems.

- The writing was delicious and mesmerizing.
- The concept and ideas were fascinating.
- The execution of those ideas always fell short and I was stuck between admiration and exasperation.
- The books were always several degrees shy of being truly spectacular. The story had potential but I ended up being disappointed all the time.
- Love interests were thrown around like options in multiple choice questions.

The first two books were better than this last one though they all had the same problems. The first one was great because it was the beginning of the story and it was thrilling and fun. The second was good too because it raised the stakes, added melodrama and some incredibly exciting new pieces of backstory and information plus a hint of what was to come. This last one failed to live up to those promises of grand and magnificent battles and revelations. The lameness of it all hurt my soul.

‘The Kindly Emperor and His Smile’ was something I was looking forward to. What I got left me with my customary wtf face. The final encounter with R’helm and the Ancients was supposed to be a thing of greatness and glory. I believe it was over in under 10 minutes. The big and bad R’helm, the dude they’ve been fighting against all this time, had a ‘change of heart’ at the last moment and it was so cringe-ly done. I actually liked R’helm as a villain, he was the most interesting character in the whole series, but like, no, dude. You tried to pull a Darth Vader but yours wasn’t as neat.

Then there’s our Henrietta and the horde of hot bois drooling in her wake since the first book. Consistency, homies. One love interest is boring. Two is great, two means options, drama, angst and feels. But THREE? Three is greedy, bitch. Especially since you insist on loving all of them AT THE SAME TIME because oh each kind of love is different. WHAT?

She legit stumbled into the hard, lean and muscled chest of one man after another and they all knew it. THEY ALL KNEW IT. Blackwood because Blackwood and she shared a dark, intertwined, inescapable destiny. Magnus because he had a great personality and red curly hair. Rook because childhood friend, yo. SWEET. Where can I find me some of these? Just point me in that general direction.

Rook had been useless as a love interest from the beginning, he should have just been a best friend. Magnus was the one and he should have been left as such. But nooo, drama had to ensue. Blackwood was carefully left out of the menu until the end of the second book. Henrietta was in so madly in love with him in this book I was FINE with that. But nooo, drama had to ensue. AGAIN. It’s funny how the men were rotated. One, then two, then one again, then two, then one again, then ALL THREE.

Henriatta and Blackwood, in a nutshell.

One might wonder then, why I gave it four stars. That’s what I’ve been agonizing about since the start of this review. Wonder away.

Profile Image for Stacee.
2,738 reviews709 followers
October 17, 2018
I had enjoyed the other books in this series and was eager to see how it all played out, sadly this was wildly disappointing.

I like Henrietta’s arc and the bit of growth with the first two; however it seemed like she was an entirely different character. She’s wishy washy and sort of whiny and I struggled to care about what she was doing. I have serious issues with what happened with a couple of characters because they deserved a lot more than what they got. I’m being vague because spoilers.

Plot wise, it was confusing. I will admit to not remembering much of the other books before starting this one, yet this felt like a bunch of random ideas mashed together. I couldn’t settle into the rhythm of the story. And I firmly believe people are either going to love or hate the ending.

Overall, I’m not entirely sure why I kept reading this because I could have easily set it down and not finished. I guess I kept hoping for a spark that would turn things around. I loved the idea of this series, but the execution of this book did not work for me.

**Huge thanks to Random House BFYR for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Livy.
262 reviews46 followers
January 14, 2019
It breaks my heart to give this rating. The two stars are for Blackwood, Howel, Maria, and the writing. But I cannot forgive what happened in this book. My heart is wildly hurting, and not from a good pain, but the pain of shattering disappointment and betrayal. I know it’s “just a book” but I’ll be rewriting this ending in my head. To be vague, a lot of character actions/emotions felt jarringly inconsistent, overblown, or just out-of-the-blue. I might write out a fuller review once my emotions have time to settle. Hopefully some of you know what I’m referring to.

Profile Image for LaRonda (Flying Paperbacks).
371 reviews31 followers
September 28, 2018
You can see my full review here!

A Shadow Bright and Burning - ★★★★
A Poison Dark and Drowning - ★★★

*I received an eArc of this book from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest

I fought for my life not to DNF this and considering that I didn't, I need some kind of award... or something.

Cause this was bad. My emotions went from uncomfortable, to rage, to disappointment, to finally a lack of caring. The plot was everywhere, execution was lacking and I could care less about the characters... especially the main character.

Because she just... refuses to develop. Over the entire series, she constantly makes mistakes which is fine... if she grew and thought things through. I'm not asking her to be perfect, but it's the simple things that would have prevented the majority of her mistakes.

And who decided to put her in an abusive relationship? It would have been okay if she realized she was in this toxic relationship and didn't continuously talk about fate and how their souls were destined and pity him for being lonely. Yet because of that, even with her finding new love, she never held him accountable for his actions.

If I'm honest? Since a major theme of this entire series is how you can love two people in different ways, I kind of was hoping for a polyamorous relationship... which didn't happen so.....

The only compliments I could give in here was the emphasis on female friendships, Lilly and Dee’s side inconsequential plot, a few LGBTQIAP+ side relationships and Rook’s resolution. Granted, looking back, it does seem a bit out of place, but I’m pulling for straws here. I'm just... disappointed.

09/27-- I hated this

02/09-- Wait... so we're still pushing this love... *enter complicated geometry shape here*?
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,092 reviews803 followers
Want to read
February 7, 2018
The cover is beautiful! But I’m sad they changed the font to match the paperback editions rather than the previous hardcover editions.

Finally getting to read the synopsis and I'm just like:
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My shipping heart is so worried
The love from her past: Magnus
The love from her present: Blackwood?
A love that could define her future: ???
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We have a title! 🎉 But why, oh why, does it sound so sad? Ugh, I pray my shipper's heart isn’t broken after this one.
Profile Image for Juliet Bernal.
4 reviews
May 20, 2018

I had received a copy of the digital arc from netgalley for an honest review, and truly it doesn't get more honest than this. The Kingdom on Fire trilogy has left me breathless with each book, with its finale truly hitting the hardest. I read this in one glorious sitting, and birds are chirping and the sun is rising outside my window as I manage to write this in the aftermath of finishing this story while tears stream down my face. Jessica Cluess has written an outstanding conclusion to her brilliant story, showing that happy endings come in many forms, and not all are absolutely painless. This trilogy has been an emotional roller coaster, with A Sorrow Fierce and Falling being the most intense yet thrilling part of the ride. I don't believe I've read a tale more enchanting and visceral, and I can truly say that I will remember it as one of my favorites of all time. This has been one of the best books I've read all year, and you certainly will not want to miss the extraordinary ending of this marvelous series.
Profile Image for Ines Valenzuela.
89 reviews
October 16, 2018
This book broke my heart.

It had soooo much potential, and although the first two books were not excellent, I saw something in them that made me continue reading. I was hoping that the books would improve as Cluess got more experience (she has GREAT ideas, but somehow misses landing them nicely), but this was unfortunately not the case.

I found the ending tacky, disorganized, and with no real storyline behind it, other that the overarching theme of the series. It seemed as though Cluess would write down random scenes that ultimately "culminated" in a terribly cheesy and boring finale.

I found Henriettas multiple romances completely unnecessary. Some books can pull it off, with great character development and with a lot more depth. Instead, it felt like Cluess was not able to convince herself with whom Henrietta should stay, so she ended up swinging back and forth between love interests.

This has been the lowest rating I've given in a while, and I am being particularly harsh because it's so disappointing to see a book with so much potential go to waste.
Profile Image for Shoshana.
619 reviews51 followers
April 14, 2018
Oh my god the crying and the laughing and I loved this!

Faster paced than the other two - definitely cramming in a lot more plot in the last book, but it works out pretty well. I anticipate people having issues with some of the romance stuff, but honestly I think it was done really beautifully, particularly this idea that you can genuinely love more than one person, in different ways, and that life sometimes makes you give up one happy ending for another. (Even if there really aren't any 100% happy endings.) Really this series, particularly this installment, is all about complexity of feelings and emotions and I love it.
Profile Image for Suzzie.
916 reviews162 followers
November 13, 2018
Humor and action make for a fast paced finale. I really enjoyed this series because it is more of a series where readers are drawn to the characters than the plot. The plot is good but it is the quirkiness of the characters that I love. There are these gems of humor in these books that make it an even more enjoyable series to read.

My quick and simple overall: highly enjoyable series with a satisfying conclusion.
Profile Image for Erika Sarutobi.
689 reviews26 followers
November 22, 2018
3.5 stars

I have enjoyed the first 75% of this book but at the end, I was a bit disappointed. Yes I know this book is fast paced but the fight with the Ancients was honestly just a few pages. I was hoping they would defeat all of the Ancients, not throw them back to where they belong. Also not just that but they "missed" being in their own world! Then why did they bother killing thousands and destroying everything instead of trying to find a way back!? Not only that but they hated their own king what the hell? They we're working to get him in through the portal and then when he came, they attacked him! Theyre currently back in their own dimension with their king that they attacked so what was the whole point? I felt like Rhelm was having some kind of redemption in the end as if he didn't murder millions of people and was a good guy doing a bad thing.

Now comes to Henreitta, who has kissed 3 guys over the span of fifty pages. I honestly felt she was so fickle when it came to the 3 guys and threw herself to whoever gave her a bit of affection. Like what was the point of making her her pregnant with Blackwood's child only to kill him over something of no worth? Just for the family name? I still think he didn't deserve to die that way. Also she was transforming to an Ancient so how did she magically stop? Her child even inherited some shadow powers!

What was the point of Maria? Like I love her and all but they paint her as the real saviour but she did nothing! She just caused trouble even until the end which is what I was suspecting but was hoping that it won't happen. She just stood there without fighting anything. Henreitta did all the work!! Like I like Maria but she was honestly useless after the second half of the book.

Honestly I'm glad Magnus is the endgame but I don't like how things happened at the end. Yes, I've just been complaining despite me saying I enjoyed this book but I just had high expectations for this last book. I really love the series but I felt like there were too many plot holes and ideas pasted together without any good coverage. People I thought would survive died and people I thought was gonna die survived instead. Even Gwen's character painted her as someone who could do shit in the first book and she turned to a lap dog in this one. I still don't see the whole purpose of Agrippa surviving. Was it just so Maria could see his face?

I cried when Rook died though. I was hoping they could save him but I didn't mind if he died. But certainly didn't like the way he died. I was hoping for something better when it came to him. Idk what exactly but definitely not what happened where he was mostly ignored and died in a single line.

Overall I felt the ending was rushed especially with Titania's gift to her which was a big deal. It was restoring magic back to the world. Nevertheless I enjoyed this whole series but was hoping for a better ending.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aimie .
367 reviews77 followers
November 30, 2018
I felt completely let down by the ending of the Kingdom on Fire series. I had enjoyed the previous books in this series and was excited to see how it would all end. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

I adored Henreitta's character, specifically her growth and development as a young woman that was mostly captured during the first two books. But that all quickly changed with her every decision and action in this book. Honestly, all the characters felt a little off from the rest of this series. Their attitudes and emotions jumped all over the place.

The plot was a bit all over the place as well. It was like Cluess was trying to tie up everything up in one book to appease the readers of this series, leaving nothing unfinished. However, in order to tie everything up cleanly there would have needed to be at least one another book after this one. It just felt like random sections were put together in one clump and made into a book.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this book, or the ending of this series. I honestly hoped for a lot more since I truly enjoyed the rest of this series. Nonetheless this will not stop me from perusing Cluess' other works.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,146 reviews245 followers
December 30, 2018
Oh this was actually a really sweet but not "too clean" of an ending! I loved all the reveals and challenges to the status quo that came out. My only real beef with it was I think Blackwood's character was changed a bit. His actions and words didn't seem like the same person as books 1 & 2
June 13, 2020

I have sort of mixed feelings on this series. The magic and worldbuilding are surprisingly complicated for YA, and the writing is good. The cast is kind of large, but I liked most of them, I think. Henrietta's okay, but I don't like the romantic decisions she makes sometimes. Wolfe and Lambe, and Dee and Lilly were cute. I liked Rook. Blackwood was just a walking alarm bell and I only kind of liked him at the end. Maria was neat. Magnus was way too much the witty side character who I never really cared for too much.

I was disappointed in the way this love square ended, but at least This series is also fairly sex positive

3.75/5 stars, which is what I give the series as a whole. I guess I shouldn't link my overall feelings on the love square and Henrietta's bad decisions, but that really did drag down the story for me. The covers are great though, and I love how the titles work. Let's see what Cluess has got for us next.
Profile Image for Patry Fernandez.
472 reviews234 followers
April 2, 2019
En realidad 4,5*

He terminado de leer «Una tristeza feroz y cruel» y que gran vacío me va a dejar ahora. Ha sido una trilogía que no se le ha dado mucha importancia, y me da mucha pena porque yo la he adorado. Es una historia que con el paso de los libros se vuelve todo más oscuro y sombrío: con peligros, tensión, batallas y ese toque de misterio. Fantasía y Londres Victoriano, y si a eso le añadimos monstruos, brujas, magos y hechiceros. ¿Que decís?
Profile Image for Jessica (a GREAT read).
1,688 reviews101 followers
October 8, 2018
I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling is Jessica Cluess’ conclusion to the epic Kingdom on Fire trilogy! This series took me by surprise when I first picked it up but it drew me in in a way I never expected! It’s pure magic and just an overall amazingness that left me kind of speechless each and every time! It happens every so often that a book just leaves me stunned and I cannot think of a single adjective to do it justice, and Jessica Cluess’ books are the perfect example!

We pick up quickly where we left off, in some ways. Henrietta and the sorcerers have taken refuge at Sorrow-Fell which is Blackwood’s property. There they will gather and think of the perfect plan to putting a stop to the world-ending plans of Henrietta’s father, R’hlem. Prior to that though, a wedding must be planned between Henrietta and Blackwood!

Though the wedding does prove to be a point of interest, needing to stop the Ancients is a bigger problem and it seems that every time Henrietta and Blackwood get close to saying the “I dos” something catastrophic happens. Then Henrietta makes a startling discover, the entrance to the Ancients’ home is on Blackwood property and when she thinks of a plan to put it all to use, Blackwood is against the idea. Then a whirlwind of chaos ensues and Henrietta finds herself on the outside of the protection spell placed on Sorrow-Fell.

Since this is the final book in the series, I have to say, a LOT happens in it! It was pretty much a book filled with nonstop action and excitement! I was turning through the pages as fast as my eyes and time would allow because the story just sucks you into it and demands to be read! So much happens, so many emotions get toyed with and it’s just one of those reads where I am seriously left speechless because I know if I open my mouth to talk a jet stream of garble will come out that cannot be understood until I let loose a spoiler without intending to! Lol! So yeah, I find myself in one of those states of reviewing mode!

Needless to say that when a book leaves me with these kinds of feelings, you know it was an epically amazing read! This series from the beginning held me so enchanted that I was always left desperate for more! The characters were so deep and colorful. They were all complicated and messy and I just loved them to pieces! There was so much to love about this series! And this final installment, I have to say, takes the cake!

This was one of those rare books where I never knew who I wanted the heroine to wind up with, romantic wise! She had three contenders for her heart, there was her beloved best friend, Rook, though he was turned into an Ancient himself, she hopes to save him from himself and return him to his former glory, then there was Magnus, the sorcerer she fell for so early on and always went back and forth with in a game of flirting, and then of course there was Blackwood himself, the man she agrees to marry. All different sorts of guys and yet, I never could really decide who I liked best. Of course, it wasn’t long before I did make my choice in this series and I was happy to see who Henrietta ended up with.

That being said, I will say that this book also killed me over and over again! Being a series finale, you can expect the turmoil of emotions, but oh my god, I wasn’t expecting my heart to break several times! I think it was around 7 times maybe? Lol. Yes, it wasn’t a pretty read that’s for sure as my heart was constantly being ripped to shreds only to mend again a few chapters later before the next tearing. But in a way, you start to expect that as a reader! Lol. Perhaps I am just starting to realize how authors think and what they delight in doing to their readers’ emotions and feelings!

But through it all, you always know how the story will end…in some way. It may not be in the way you imagined or hoped for, but the ending is always the same. Truly, I hope to never find a book that ends in the opposite way, I don’t think my fragile mind could take that! Lol.

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling was a positively beautiful read that all fantasy readers will come to adore! Though I do recommend reading the first two books, because spoilers! Lol. The Kingdom on Fire trilogy was an exquisite series to read and I am happy to have taken that leap in picking up the first book ever so long ago. And one last comment, how gorgeous have these covers been?! I swear that they got more beautiful as the series went on!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling releases October 16, 2018
Profile Image for Clare Carter.
Author 2 books30 followers
February 13, 2019
Yooo I don't know guys I have mixed feelings on this one. Basically, it can all be summed up with this: this trilogy was okay, but honestly had SO much squandered potential.

1. The world was cool, but not fully developed. I loved certain elements, like the hierarchy of magic, but there were no REAL rules. I wish I knew more history than just the couple of sentences thrown in here or there, because then I would get more of a sense of how exactly the magic is different for each type of magical person.

2. The plot was interesting, but there weren't really any plot twists. Things would just *happen* with no prior build up or explanation. I was constantly thinking, "Was that supposed to be a plot twist? Or was it just lazy writing? I dunno."

3. Worst of all for me, the romance had great, poignant moments, but was ruined by trying to juggle THREE love interests. This was what really ruined the trilogy for me. It was almost worse that I saw those brief, amazing moments, because I could see how much better it could have been! Magnus, Blackwood, and Rook were 3 SUPER interesting boys that could have had GREAT relationships with Henrietta, and each showed promise in their chemistry with her. But each was squandered to make space for another boy to take their place. Here's what I mean I bit more clearly: if this trilogy focused only on Henrietta's relationship with Magnus, their falling out, and then falling back in love, it would have made more room for that world-building that constantly seemed forced in. It would have made more room for her and Magnus's relationship to grow. It would have made when they come back together in this last book about 10 billion times more believable, instead of feeling like he was just Henrietta's last option. If the trilogy focused only on the hate-to-love relationship with Blackwood and his redemption (instead of whatever the heck happened with him in this book I was pretty sad he just turned out to be freaking Snape instead of Zuko), it would have been better. If the trilogy focused only on her falling in love with Rook, losing him, and then saving him, it would have been better!! But because these books did ALL THREE, each was done poorly and left me feeling like Henrietta didn't have deep relationships with any of them. Am I making any sense?

Honestly, this has happened more than once for me recently with YA trilogies, where I hope they'll go one direction and they just go in a different, stupid direction. Maybe that's why I put off finishing so many YA series.... For this last book in particular, there were many moments that I enjoyed and compelled me to read on, but almost an equal amount of it had me rolling my eyes and, unfortunately, wanting it to be over.
Profile Image for Amanda.
516 reviews1,101 followers
March 26, 2019
Ok… I’m going to try to review this in the midst of an epic book hangover. A Sorrow Fierce and Falling put me through the emotional wringer. Seriously, this was a rollercoaster of emotions! It’s like I was equally devastated and elated all at the same time so I didn’t really know how to feel at any given time. The only thing I knew for sure was that what I was reading is brilliant.

The writing was exquisite as usual. Some of the imagery used in this was so intense and insane that it really made for a full sensory experience. I mean… Cluess is describing interdimensional, Lovecraftian monsters so it needs to be horrifying and visceral to really get the point across properly. Cluess totally achieves this and manages to keep a sense of humor as well.

Now… as for the emotional rollercoaster, fair warning that many characters die in this. Some in particular utterly devastated me. DEVASTATED! I was straight up ugly crying over fictional characters. However, the ending brought it all together. There’s this sense of hope that shines through at the end that helped me get over all the emotional wreckage. Also, Magnus is back in my good graces forever. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I know this is the finale but I kind of feel like the door is open for more stories in this world. There are a lot of possibilities available for a spinoff series but I don’t know if that will ever really happen. I just want to read more about this world and these characters damn it! This series had the ability to emotionally wreck me… but in the best possible way.
Profile Image for Anna Holland.
231 reviews145 followers
October 14, 2019
4'5 !
Me ha encantado este cierre de trilogía! Ya os contaré más en el blog pero de verdad os digo que la trilogía de "El Reino en Llamas" merece la pena 100%! Vaya viaje hemos hecho y que ganas de recordarlo siempre.
Profile Image for Mavis Ros.
497 reviews14 followers
August 24, 2020

I know because he told me himself. My father was a magician who dabbled in the darker arts, but not for evil purposes.


This was a little underwhelming than A Shadow Bright and Burning. I didn’t predict much to begin with since this is the last book.
But this feels like a continuation.

If a story wants to talk about the progress of their relationship status and their own wedding, it doesn’t have to take over the first half. Because that pacing right there is what made me almost dnf it.
Like heck, this took me over three months to get over it and finish the story already.

Correct me if I’m wrong but the fighting sequences were a bit general in terms of a normal ya fantasy. So don’t expect a lot to be memorable because oh, you won’t miss much.

I just wanna point out that some topics felt a little bit rushed if only this ended with a fourth book so we can explore more regarding the conflict between the witches, magicians, and the sorcerers.

Overall, I still enjoyed this trilogy. The characters were the highlight though.

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
273 reviews18 followers
May 9, 2022
In retrospect, this book could have followed a much more abysmal route, but because I cannot fathom a single reason why I would have enjoyed this book, one star it is (for Maria [+rep], Mickelmas, and a plot that was at least cohesive). Relatively banal storylines are rendered unbearable by the ever-present and convoluted romantic relationships present as well as the tacky storytelling. I haven’t compulsively read such a soul-draining novel since Air Awakens.

-Blackwood definitely has a mad wife in the attic, or something

The romance between Henrietta and Blackwood in this book was intensely toxic and off-putting. I cannot recommend this book to anyone solely because of this aspect, which, while not portrayed as good/healthy, receives too much of a pass and goes on for far too long. There were some parts that made me feel very icky, such as when Their relationship was overall extremely uncomfortable to read about.

They do eventually part ways, but the breadth of Blackwood’s toxicity and possessiveness is never fully acknowledged or addressed, and Henrietta still feels a degree of attachment to him. While, yes, it’s not entirely unrealistic for her to feel that way, there is no reason for their twisted relationship to be in this book, especially with its intended audience.

Blackwood himself, it seems, has actually regressed character-wise, and is plain awful in this installment and only partially repents

-Darth R'helm: "Give me your skin, George"

R’helm is an antagonist with a motivation that doesn’t match with his actions, the former of which is nebulous. He’s essentially a wannabe Darth Vader, but no. When the Okay? And why Henrietta insists on calling him “father” is beyond me.

-Everything is mishandled by the writing.

While the writing is not bad technically, levity abounds. Descriptions of innocents being impaled is casually mentioned, as if our narrator Henrietta is an aloof spectator. and barely anyone pays attention. There is little reflection on the destruction wrought, other than the passing “this is all that’s left of England”. Not even An Ember in the Ashes possessed this level of apathy.

Also—one of the eldritch demons is literally “a blob of jelly”, like what is this, Hotel Transylvania?

The parts near the middle are fine, like the coven stuff, but the same standard YA writing style persists.


The stuff with Lady Blackwood was uncomfortable.

If Rook

-It was meaningless

There’s no point. No positive messages or poignant moments come to mind when I try to recall this book. A Shadow Bright and Burning is good because of how Henrietta befriended the sorcerers and fought prejudice and expectations against her. A Poison Dark and Drowning is okay because it introduces enough new concepts and characters to keep things interesting. I gained absolutely nothing from this book, save the assurance that I will never have to read a single word about these idiotic characters again.

A Shadow Bright and Burning: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Poison Dark and Drowning: ⭐⭐⭐
A Sorrow Fierce and Falling: ⭐
Profile Image for Dena McMurdie.
Author 3 books133 followers
November 27, 2018
A fantastic finish to a fantastic series! I loved this finale. It was as explosive and magic and romantic as I could hope for.

Of course, I was disappointed with the way certain characters ended up -- and I don't mean this in a bad way. I was invested in the story and characters and was sad that some of them didn't get their happily-ever-after. And I loved the ending! It was sweet and unexpected.

What can I say about this book without giving anything away? Not much. But I will say that I enjoyed seeing all my favorite characters again. I happily fell into this alternate historical England filled with magic and monsters and surprises.

If you haven't read this series yet, I highly recommend it! It's my favorite YA series I read in 2018!
Profile Image for Tori.
373 reviews12 followers
October 19, 2018
While some parts of this worked out just a bit too perfectly, I have to say I love how this ended.

Henrietta got to have all the cakes, without shame or overwrought drama (well... too overwrought, anyway). She had her endings with each of her love interests, and she ended up with the person who respected her and let her be herself (but still got a steamy fuckfest with the broody badguy. Praise all that is good in the world!)

A little meh that Henrietta had to become a mother for fulfillment with zero negative consequences, but I still sort of understood and agreed with that narrative choice.

A very brave way to end this series, and for once, I can honestly say I LOVED IT.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,723 reviews261 followers
August 18, 2019
A Sorrow Fierce and Falling is a great series finale. Henrietta has grown so much over the course of the series. It was good to see how it all played out and for the most part I appreciated how it all wrapped up. Overall, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. Fiona Hardingham does a marvelous job of bringing this world to life. Was it just me or did anyone else picture Jenna Coleman as young Queen Victoria?
Profile Image for Kayla TM.
262 reviews126 followers
August 5, 2023
Since this is the third book in the series I won’t talk about what it’s about. It is a solid conclusion, that follows the others in the same vein.

The storyline starts a couple months after the conclusion of the second book. I don’t understand why, since there’s constant conflict, so something important would’ve happened in those months. The break seems disjointed. But with a fast paced storyline, the book takes off right from the beginning and comes to a nice, though a little drawn out, end.

What I struggled with the most, like I did with the other books, was the characters. Henrietta is a strong, independent character, but facets of her personality don’t make sense or are a bit ridiculous. I won’t go into it very deeply, but that’s not how being in love works. And the way it’s portrayed is obnoxious.

As a whole, I did like the series. It’s not a favorite, but it doesn’t have any major flaws. It’s an average ya fantasy series.

Book 3: 3 stars
The whole trilogy: 3 stars.
Profile Image for alittlelifeofmel.
888 reviews346 followers
September 6, 2020
4 stars because, while this book was a really satisfying conclusion, I felt the series could have easily been 4 books, or been 3 longer books. There wasn’t enough time spent with some of the things that occurred.
Profile Image for Marina.
302 reviews12 followers
May 22, 2020
Really enjoyed this series and can recommend it.
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