Joshee Kun (조수아)'s Reviews > A Shadow Bright and Burning

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
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bookshelves: fantasy, physically-owned, historical, penguin-random-house

I buddy read this book with the bookish king, Solomon, and the empowered fangirls, Cait and Ambs.

I am quite disappointed in myself for delaying this review for one month. I have been in a "reviewing slump" lately, and I want to get out of it as soon as possible. It's a good thing I still remember the important events that happened in this book. I really enjoyed reading it with my friends, but the book itself did not entirely please me.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a new take on a beloved (or infamous) trope in YA: the Chosen One. The heroine, Henrietta Howell, is believed to be one who will save England from seven powerful monsters called the Ancients. When she discovers the falsity of her status, she struggles to keep her secret hidden in order to protect herself, as well as her best friend, Rook. Filled with political, magical, and romantic drama, this novel is fun to read, especially if you love fantasy.

This book struck me as fascinating particularly because it enforced a dichotomy between magicians and sorcerers. The former were ostracized tricksters who belonged to the lower classes, while the latter were highly-esteemed masters of the elements who were tasked to eliminate the Ancients. Magicians and sorcerers are generally seen as one and the same in other narratives, so it was intriguing how the author challenged the status quo. :)

Furthermore, I appreciated the author's implementation of diversity. Honestly, I was surprised that Henrietta was a person of color. Whether or not we care to admit it, YA fantasy predominantly revolves around Caucasian protagonists (and colored antagonists). Thus, I liked this book because it is a testament that change is happening in our bookish community. However, I must admit that Henrietta's skin tone was sometimes subtly made fun of. If the author merely wanted to reflect racism in Victorian England, I am willing to recant this criticism. ^^

Caitlin, Ambs, Solly, and I were not fans of the romance in this book. We already had a hard time memorizing the names of those six or seven boys, so we became more frustrated when Henrietta started to harbor feelings for more than one of them. In anime terms, Henrietta had her own reverse harem. I myself did not have an OTP to ship because she had no real chemistry with any of the love interests. :(

Perhaps the most controversial thing in this book is Henrietta's magic staff/wand, Porridge. Yes. She named it FREAKIN' PORRIDGE. She did it to acknowledge her humble heritage, but my friends and I hated the name nonetheless. The action scenes in the book never failed to become corny and cringe-worthy whenever Henrietta spoke to her infamous weapon. I fervently wish that she would change its name in the sequel. :3

In the end, I enjoyed this book mostly because I read it with my friends. Sharing my thoughts and feelings definitely gave me a better reading experience. Still, the book itself is worth your time because it has strengths in terms of plot and diversity. I'm curious enough to continue the series, so I really hope that book two is much better.

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Reading Progress

September 13, 2016 – Shelved
September 13, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 13, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 13, 2016 – Shelved as: physically-owned
May 10, 2017 – Started Reading
May 10, 2017 –
page 52
12.78% "My, but you're dark. Not that it's bad—I think dark women look mysterious—but Miss Gwen's colors may not suit you, but we can try nonetheless. —Lilly

Hahaha. Here we go again with suspiciously racist novels. Oh well, I don't want to make a big deal out of this."
May 10, 2017 –
page 76
18.67% "Actually, I like it when women yell at me. It makes a nice change from all those adoring love letters. —Julian Magnus

This dude's name is so Shadowhunter-ish, but I seriously do not like him. I wouldn't know what to do if he were a love interest."
May 11, 2017 –
page 117
28.75% "Your complexion is positively designed for red, as you're so dark. No pinks. Pink will be the death of you, and green will turn you sallow. Yellow might work, but only the right shade. —Eliza

May 12, 2017 –
page 168
41.28% "Now this seems like a new version of Red Queen. :3"
May 14, 2017 –
page 200
49.14% "Cait gave this book 3.5 stars, and then Solly marked it as DNF. Ambs and I haven't finished it yet. lol. It's nice to have such a diverse group of friends. xD"
May 15, 2017 –
page 237
58.23% "Can somebody tell me if love triangles happen in real life? :p"
May 16, 2017 –
page 300
73.71% "I officially hate Magnus. Such a manwhore."
May 17, 2017 – Finished Reading
June 1, 2017 – Shelved as: historical
August 6, 2019 – Shelved as: penguin-random-house

Comments (showing 1-7)

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Elora Mitchell *Sovereign of not finishing books I start* Silly Josh. Books don't have feelings. They are cruel objects that give us all the feels. 😂

Joshee Kun (조수아) Elora wrote: "Silly Josh. Books don't have feelings. They are cruel objects that give us all the feels. 😂"

Harharhar perfectly said, Elora! We love them despite their cruelty. XD

Elora Mitchell *Sovereign of not finishing books I start* Yes! I should have said "wonderful, cruel objects!"

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW YOU FINISHED LOLOL ill be silently waiting for your review

Joshee Kun (조수아) Solomon wrote: "I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW YOU FINISHED LOLOL ill be silently waiting for your review"

Hihihi. Cait gave it a higher rating. xD I SHALL MISS PORRIDGE. WAHAHAHA.

Caitlin I hate you all

message 1: by Joshee Kun (last edited May 18, 2017 10:03PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joshee Kun (조수아) Caitlin wrote: "I hate you all"

I'll immediately send you an eARC of the sequel if I get one. ;)

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