Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more's Reviews > A Shadow Bright and Burning

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
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Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

I began reading A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING with trepidation. I'd read the preview months prior, and at the time, I'd been greatly impressed, but since then I'd suffered numerous disappointments of the finished-product-not-remotely-living-up-its-promise variety.

And initially, my inner cynic taunted me, pointing out perceived flaws, whispering to get it over with and DNF already . . . Then a hobgoblin unexpectedly appeared, and I told my inner cynic to shut its trap.

B/c FAE.

From there, the already interesting early Victorian England--this version plagued by seven Ancients that walk and talk and quack like demons--expanded into a spectacular alternate version of our own world with sharp-toothed faerie dressmakers, tricksy, not-to-be-trusted-but-oh-so-charming Magicians, estates gifted by fae royalty, yet still recognizable by the ugly, ugly prejudice.

Henrietta Howel is a witch in a time when witches are burned. An orphan, she now teaches at the charity school where she was raised . . . The charity school currently being visited by a royal sorcerer . . . A royal sorcerer whom Henrietta fears was sent to investigate the rumors of mysterious fires.

Mysterious fires that she herself is responsible for.

But when she meets the man, she is surprised to discover a kindred spirit:

“I find a dash of insolence to be quite enjoyable from time to time.”

Then we discover that Henrietta is not a witch, and Agrippa (the royal sorcerer) not only believes that she is a rare female sorcerer, but also that she is the girl prophesied to take England back from its demonic invaders.

Is Henrietta this so-called Chosen One?

Maybe she is and maybe she isn't. After reading the last page, I was still undecided. The only thing I knew positively was that whatever the answer, it's not so simple.

Also not so simple is the answer to the inevitable question: is there a love triangle?

There are two definitive love interests (maybe a third, if you're a particularly contrary sort, who never goes for the obvious choices), but the way Cluess handles the situation . . . Honestly, neither are good candidates for our girl. And anyway, it's not one of those angsty, dueling for the lady's affection scenarios.

Option 1 is a comfortable childhood friend, and option 2 is a flamboyant and hilarious blue blood you don't take seriously until option 1 starts to look like a Red Shirt, then you don't take him seriously b/c REASONS, then option 1 looks less and less like a Red Shirt . . . but still you can't help feeling like no good can come of it . . .

Basically, I felt option 1 is only in the running b/c familiar, and option 2 made me swoon a time or two, but I never gave him my heart. *whispers* I may be the contrary sort I mentioned earlier.

BOTTOM LINE: though Henrietta's future HEA may at this time be unclear, I didn't feel jerked around or manipulated like with so many other love quadrilles triangles.

As for other typically YA aspects some of you try to avoid, there were surprisingly few.

I felt the first few chapters were a bit rushed, the circumstances coming together far too serendipitously, but once we got to where we were going, things began to unfold more naturally, and often hilariously.

Beyond that I had a couple of minor issues where Henrietta's not-so-simple situation and her fear of discovery were referenced a bit more than necessary, and a couple of times she was appallingly self-absorbed: (view spoiler)

But those times are few and far between, and only warrant comment as explanation for my 4.0, not 5.0, star rating.

Overall, A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess, the first installment of her KINGDOM ON FIRE YA fantasy series, was a delightful surprise, and I very much enjoyed this fantastical version of early Victorian (NOT steampunk) England. There are hideously beguiling Fae creatures, repulsive demons hellbent on England's destruction, rapscallion magicians in hiding, and a girl with a gift that terrifies her, who may or may not be her world's salvation.

Among other things . . .

Highly recommended.

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Quotes Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Liked

Jessica Cluess
“Your stupidity is terrifying.”
Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and Burning

Jessica Cluess
Flibberty bop, to the top, allons-y, charge.
Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and Burning

Jessica Cluess
“I have always been uncomfortable with fragile things, like feelings and confessions. Butterflies, too.”
Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and Burning

Jessica Cluess
“I find a dash of insolence to be quite enjoyable from time to time.”
Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and Burning


Reading Progress

April 18, 2015 – Shelved
August 12, 2016 – Started Reading
August 12, 2016 –
page 5
1.23% "“I apologize for the inexcusable outbursts, Master Agrippa,” Colegrind said, glaring at me. “At the Brimthorn School for Girls, we try to curb female waywardness and insolence.” \nHe could try to curb me all he liked. But right now that was the least of my worries. My hands were beginning to burn again. “I find a dash of insolence to be quite enjoyable from time to time.”\n\nMe, too, Master Agrippa. ;)"
August 12, 2016 –
page 28
6.88% ""I'm a hobgoblin, cherub. My name is Fenswick . . . Her majesty lent me to aid the Order in this war."\n"Queen Victoria owns hobgoblins?"\n"No one owns me, and certainly not any Victoria. I serve Queen Mab of the dark Faerie court . . ."\n\ndescription"
August 12, 2016 –
page 273
67.08% ""You young girls are all the same. 'Oh, my life is so impossible. No boy will ever love me, and I'll live alone in a hovel with sixteen cats. Such is my woe.'"\n\ndescription\n\nPS - Hargrove is my FAVORITE."
August 13, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Jo (new)

Jo Fantastic review, Jessica!!!!


message 3: by P (new) - added it

P I want this book right now !!


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more P wrote: "I want this book right now !!"

IMO, it's definitely worth the excitement. ;)


Nastassja I am glad to hear this book is really good! I was hoping it will be great despite love quadrilles triangles and, yes!, to dark fantasy stuff! :D

Wonderful review, Jessica!


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Nastassja wrote: "I am glad to hear this book is really good! I was hoping it will be great despite love quadrilles triangles and, yes!, to dark fantasy stuff! :D

Wonderful review, Jessica!"


Then you should definitely like this one! Thanks, Nastassja!


Dana Sadly I got declined for this book, glad you enjoyed it though :)


Eve (Between The Bookends) Awesome review! :D


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Dana wrote: "Sadly I got declined for this book, glad you enjoyed it though :)"

Have you tried requesting directly from the publisher? My request for the eARC is still sitting on NetGalley, neither approved or denied, but I got a physical copy from the publicist. ;)


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Eve wrote: "Awesome review! :D"

Thanks, Eve!


Blanka I 100% agree with all you said, even with the potential third party. May I ask who it is? (For me it's Blackwood).
Also, potential gay love??


message 12: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben What's another good book like this?


Faith The Assassin Is the third possible option Blackwood? Cause I'm kind of shipping him and Henrietta. I can't be the only one can I? I mean I love Magnus and I do believe he can redeem himself and if he totally happy with Magrietta being the endgame. Rook. Nah I ship him and Lily.


Eilonwy I loved this book, too! Awesome review.


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Blanka wrote: "I 100% agree with all you said, even with the potential third party. May I ask who it is? (For me it's Blackwood).
Also, potential gay love??"


Honestly, I don't remember, lol. But I'm about to read A Poison Dark and Drowning, so hopefully I'll soon be reacquainted with the details.


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Ben wrote: "What's another good book like this?"

That, dear Ben, is a very specific answer to a very broad question. "Like this"? The only thing I'm coming up with off the top of my head is a historical fantasy trilogy by Jessica Spotswood, but there are witches instead of fae, and I didn't make it past the first book, b/c so very boring.

I might be able to give you recs based on the individual elements, maybe even a combination of two (historical fantasy in a Victorian vs. steampunk setting OR magic OR fae), but all of them together?

I got nuthin'.


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Faith wrote: "Is the third possible option Blackwood? Cause I'm kind of shipping him and Henrietta. I can't be the only one can I? I mean I love Magnus and I do believe he can redeem himself and if he totally ha..."

Again, I don't actually remember . . . O.o BUT. That sounds right, lol. I'll be sure to spoiler tag it somehow in my review of the next book.


Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more Eilonwy wrote: "I loved this book, too! Awesome review."

Thanks, dollface!


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