I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess is a fantasy novel set in a world where darkness threatens to reign and a war looms. Our main character, Henrietta Howel, better known simply as Howel is the heroine of our story. The “chosen” one.
In my honest opinion I felt the characters were weak. Though they were by no means terribly written, but I felt that they could have had a lot more potential. The author could have taken these characters and made more of a story for each of them. While the main characters had some sort of history or past, all the side characters were just there. The only reason they were there was because the author needed someone there. Personally, I did not like Howel very much. At the beginning she intrigued me but by the middle of the story her character was all angst and I was tired of hearing about it.
The plot was well done for the most part. The beginning hooks the reader in and refuses to let go which I really liked. Though the middle had a slow drag where our main character had some intense angst, towards the end again the pacing picks up. As for the romance plot, I really liked that there wasn’t much there. While the romance was evident, I knew there would be more in the sequel, the romance was clearly not the main objective of the story.
The concept of the story was interesting. In fact, I really liked the concept. Where sorcerers are considered gifted and special, while magicians are considered evil and liars. I thought that was a really interesting concept that told the difference between one from another. I definitely thought the story could have been executed a lot better through the characters and the overall writing but ASBAB being the author’s first work, Cluess definitely has more time to advance in her writing skills.
Overall, I rate A Shadow Bright and Burning 3/5 stars. I found that I really enjoyed the concept and the story did keep me hooked, but the characters wee mostly what bugged me. I recommend this book to anyone who loves an entertaining fantasy with some action, suspense and a teensy bit of romance.
About the Author:
JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.