A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

“Knowledge is as powerful as fire. The brighter it burns, the more it devours.”

*Warning* Spoilers ahead

I’ve been putting off reading A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess because I didn’t think that I would like it. I finally picked it up after 4 months of sitting on my shelf and I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. I still had some problems with it, but it was a different and interesting read, so I decided to give it 3 stars.

My least favorite thing about this book was the world-building or lack thereof. I know that it takes place in London, but it was never explained if there was magic everywhere or anything about those without magic in this world. I’m still confused about what the Korozoth is or what he does and why people are so afraid by those who are marked by him. The magic system and the world was very lacking and it took me out of the book and only managed to confuse me.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the three main characters. I adored Henrietta and her ability to keep going forward despite everything working against her. She wasn’t even the prophesied one, but that never stopped her from working hard and protecting the people around her. It is pretty clear that Blackwood and Magnus are the main love interests and I already like both of them. Magnus is the comic relief that the readers need (I always fall in love with that type of character) and Blackwood is the Mr. Darcy of the story who I’m excited to learn more about.

Even though I loved the main characters, the side characters weren’t developed well enough. I don’t care about Rook or anything that happens to him since I don’t know him that well. I know he’s an Unclean, has some weird powers (that I still don’t understand), and has been friends with Henrietta for a long time. He has no personality. I thought that all of the other sorcerers standing with Henrietta was extremely sweet, but I don’t know any of their names or anything about them. Even Agrippa still confuses me. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Why did he screw Henrietta over?

I loved the different path that A Shadow Bright and Burning took in the chosen one trope. From the synopsis, the readers know that Henrietta isn’t truly the chosen one, but she spends about 150 pages believing that she is. Even when she learns that she isn’t the chosen one, she still works hard to keep up the facade and even ends up using her powers to protect everyone when they know what she really is. I was fascinated by this new take of the trope and I want to read more about it in other books.

Overall, A Shadow Bright and Burning was a fine fantasy book that had its ups and its downs. I had low expectations going into this book and I was pleasantly surprised with how much more I liked this book than I thought it would. I don’t love this story, but I like it enough to eventually finish the series.

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