'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 24 February 2017

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

A Shadow Bright and Burning is powerful, thrilling and addictive. An epic fantasy like no other, it will leave you questioning who you are and how far you would go for the people you love.

The story is set in Victorian London, but with a twist. There are queens, carriages and curtseying, but also sorcerers, magicians and magic. Add in hideous, giant demons from a mysterious, unknown realm and you have one interesting and intense backdrop for chaos to reign and heroes to rise.

And the hero in question? Her name is Henrietta Howel, and she has a unique talent for creating and manipulating fire. This special gift has her quickly labelled a sorcerer and places her in the middle of a prophecy to defeat the invading demons, called Ancients. 

With her best friend by her side, Henrietta begins to train as a sorcerer with several other male hopefuls. But she soon discovers her sorcerer skills are not what she (and everyone else) hoped they’d be. As she searches for answers and tries to fit into a privileged society she knows little about, Henrietta uncovers dangerous secrets about her past and what she truly is. 

Henrietta makes friends and enemies, learns of love and heartache, but in the end she must forge her own path and make hard decisions about who she should trust, protect, save and sacrifice. 

I loved falling into this story world. It is deep and intriguing, and Jessica Cluess does a marvellous job of pulling you in, scattering mysteries and almost but-not-quite-completely giving you all the answers.

The story also raises some fantastic questions about loyalty and sacrifice. It left me asking myself how far I would go to save someone, and it had me thinking about spectrums of right and wrong. 

And then there are the Ancients. Oh, the Ancients! Spectacularly gruesome and refreshingly original, these monstrous creations are simply bone-chilling. They are an ominous cloud hanging over the pages, striking the story world and its characters without mercy throughout the novel. I guarantee these beasts will stay with you long after you close the book.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is gripping and suspenseful with twists and turns you won’t see coming. It will make you think and question, but above all, it will thrill and entertain like a good book should.

And series lovers rejoice! This is the first of (what I personally hope is many) more books to come about this gritty and fascinating story world.

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House, $19.99
Publication Date: 3 January 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143784739
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult