A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING
SERIES: Kingdom on Fire, #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, Historical Fantasy – Victorian England
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is 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?
Hmm… I thought that A Shadow Bright and Burning was an enjoyable story but, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype I remember it receiving back when it was released.
The world-building was pretty good. The alternate London felt pretty believable, with two polarized ‘worlds’ — the privileged, upper-class world of Agrippa, Blackwood and the Sorcerers, and the lower-class, underprivileged areas of the city, where monsters called Ancients threaten the lives of the inhabitants. I also really liked the Ancients and the idea of these really unique monsters and the history behind them. I’d like for the sequels to explore the other (five?) Ancients a little more. The overall atmosphere had a dark, slightly gothic feel to it, and I liked the contrast between working-class Henrietta and the way she interacted with the more privileged boys.
That said, I wasn’t that keen on Henrietta as a protagonist. She just didn’t really make an impact on me while reading — I didn’t feel particularly invested in her. I also had sort of mixed feelings about the romance too. On one hand, Henrietta is (basically) the only girl in existence and, of course, everyone falls in love with her. On the other hand, I did like that the boys who have been rebuffed/ don’t think she’s interested in them/ isn’t interested in her, didn’t hold a grudge and really came to her aid when she needed them. I’d love to see the friendship aspects developed in future books.
The sequel to A Shadow Bright and Burning is already out, with a third book on the way. Will I be continuing with this series? I’m not sure yet. Possibly, but I’m in no great rush to.