ARC Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

4.5/5 Stars
Published by Random House 
Published September 20th, 2016

Synopsis: 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?

This was such a fun read for me. I read this on a car ride up to Connecticut and could not put it down for the life of me. Jessica Cluess, a debut author, stunned me with her excellent storytelling and amusing set of characters. While I was already super excited for this book (because female sorcerer), I was even more delighted when I found myself a style of writing that was so easy to read. For this book, I felt that the writing played a great part in the development of the foundation of this story. This type of fantasy, one with elemental magic and danger in everything, is my favorite type of fantasy, and I felt that Cluess did a fantastic job molding it to her liking. 

An aspect of the Victorian era I enjoy, that is generally common amongst most books, is the character personalities. Characters tend to be bolder, wittier; a bit more cheeky than modern characters. It all adds to the story in the end. While I loved Henrietta Howel, I also very much loved the boys and felt like the story wouldn't have been complete without them. Henrietta was a great main character, with a voice that was distinct and well structured. She is completely unafraid to speak her mind and battle for what she wants. When paired with the infamous boys, Henrietta and the others are able to calm havoc and instill badassery. I am very fond of one mister Blackwood and sure do hope to see much more of him in the sequel. His personality is complementary to Henrietta and I honestly consider them to be the platonic ship of the century (though I wouldn't mind if it became something more *wiggles brows*). Along with them, Magnus was a blast. Magnus will go through whatever means necessary to make someone feel welcome, despite having a loud and out there personality. 

The plot of this story was so fast paced and to the point, that you find yourself getting lost in the story and the magic of it all. There were some surprises that I definitely did not see coming, and revelations that are making me question what is to come in the future. From where the book ended, I can definitely see the future of this series to be bright, as Jessica Cluess left herself with a lot of room to play with. I honestly just love this book for everything it is. It's magical and dangerous, enthralling and playfully romantic, and I just cannot wait for the sequel. I have followed Jessica and her journey to this debut since the beginning of time, and I am just so proud/thrilled/happy that it turned out as wonderful as I could have hoped for.

In all honesty, I can't give this book a review to give it justice because I just had such a positive and happy feeling after finishing this book. I live for that distinct feeling and only get it after books I know will, and have made, impressions on me for an everlasting time. To me, this is the perfect fall read. I love stories that are set in Victorian era London, because I imagine the weather to be cooler, windier, and just overall much more pleasing. If you want a quick read that will knock your socks off, this book is definitely for you. If you're looking for a book that is good for its elemental magic, powerful sorcerers, and complicated societal caste, this is a great one for you.