This was an author that was attending Yallwest because the second book in her series was just released. I had always been on the fence with her book because it looked promising but it never stayed on my brain. Well after Yallwest I decided to give this book a shot.
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess is about Henrietta Howel who lives in Victorian England. In this universe sorcerers exist and protect the kingdom from demons that attack it. Henrietta is believed to be the prophesied first female sorcerer after all the others had been wiped out years before. However, she knows this is not true. To protect herself she must pretend though and go to the city where she begins her training with other sorcerer trainees. Darkness looms on the horizon and the demons are not the only threats Henrietta faces. Secrets in the sorcerer society are just as dangerous as monsters.
This book had a really promising premise. The author created this world in Victorian England with demons and magic but it just fell flat. The plot was not very original at all. It can be hard for authors to come up with a original idea as a base for their story but typically they can twist and turn it so that it becomes different. Unfortunately this just felt like every other story about the “chosen one.” You could predict exactly how the story would go because it follow almost every trope out there.
The characters were not very likable either. It felt like the author was trying to push the oppressing men and strong female idea too much. I understand that in that time period women had very little rights but it was almost eye roll worthy at points in the books how much she was trying to make Henrietta seem like this strong independent character. I am a strong believer that the best written female characters don’t seem forced in their independence. The boys all fit into some sort of stereotypical male character role. None of the characters were fleshed out but you were expected to connect with them and like them immediately.
I feel like if this book at been a little bit longer she could have taken her ideas and fleshed them out more. She has such a great base for a young adult book series but I feel that she is only scraping the surface when it comes to what her ideas can do.
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