Review – A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess


Title A Shadow Bright and Burning

Author Jessica Cluess

Description from Amazon

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

When Henrietta Howel is forced to reveal her unique power—the ability to control flames—to save a friend, she fears she will be executed. Instead, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers and declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Initial Thoughts

I was definitely intrigued by the idea that the main character, Henrietta, is mistakenly declared “the chosen one” in this story.  I feel like so many YA stories center around an actual “chosen one” and it’s a breath of fresh air to discover that our main character is actually not that person.

Cover Art

I like the cover on this book.  I’m not 100% sure why it’s a rose on fire, but I get the fire and I like the colors.  The cover is literal without being over the top.  I mean, this is the Kingdom on Fire series so, I think the cover works.

I also like the way the word “BURNING” fades into the flames as it the word itself is burning.

Favorite Part

The setting — I love the alternate version of London we get to explore in this book.  I think it’s a difficult feat to mix fantasy elements into a historical setting but it’s done really well here.

Something I Wasn’t Crazy About

Although this story defies the chosen one trope, it did not avoid the love triangle trope.  I hate it.  I hate how all of the men just seem to be in love with Henrietta.  It’s too much.  Somebody needs to not be obsessed with her.

Series Value

I think this series has a lot of potential.  However, I feel the need to point out that I read this book in January and it’s May and I have not felt compelled to pick up the next book.  It’s definitely a decent series, but it’s not magnetic in the way other series I have read are.

Final Thoughts

This book was ok.  I liked it but, I didn’t love it.  It lost major points on for the love disaster triangle and the way the ending unfolded.  I think this series has potential, but the other two books are not anywhere close to the top of my TBR list.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Game of Secrets by Kim Foster – although, this story is a standalone, the basic storyline is the same.  Alternate London in the backdrop, both stories feature a girl scooped up from her life and led to believe she is the chosen one among a series of other magic users.  Both girls are taken to a sort of school to train and learn to work with a new team.  There is definitely a romance subplot in both, but Game of Secrets features more of a forbidden romance as opposed to a love triangle.
  • Frostblood, Fireblood, and Nightblood by Elly Blake – this is another trilogy featuring elemental magic, romance, and a chosen (but not so chosen) main character.
  • Fawkes by Nadine Brandes – although the magic system is quite different, Fawkes features an alternate London at around the same time as A Shadow Bright and Burning.  Both stories have intricate magic systems and make references to real events and people from history.


A Shadow Bright and Burning on Goodreads

Buy A Shadow Bright and Burning on Amazon

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