A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Book Review)


Publisher: Random House
Page Count
: 407

The first time I set eyes upon the cover of this book, I fell in love. It’s beautiful and dark and the premise sounded oh so promising too! Even when I started, the first two chapters were just magnificent. I instantly felt drawn to this curious Fantasy-version of Victorian England and the many monsters that inhabited it. I am not going to lie, the monsters were probably my favourite part about the whole book. I can’t even explain what it is about them, because I don’t fully understand them yet, which just makes them all the better.

The world building was just fantastic. I got a bit confused when they tried to tell me the difference between witches, magicians and sorcerers, because well, magic is not just magic. Sorcerers get staves and that is a really personal thing, as you are bound to your stave forever. Your life literally depends on the fact that nothing happens to a stick. It was really funny, because you have to name it and Henrietta, the main character, just chose a hilarious one for hers (which I won’t say because of spoilers, but it’s a good one!).

However, my enthusiasm for the story got a little lower as I continued reading. It was still written in a way that was nice and easy to go through. Sometimes it was even hilariously written, for example when Henrietta aggressively drank tea or aggressively petted a horse in order for her to not burst into flames. There is an abundance of potential love interests (because, yes, there definitely is such a thing as too many love interest) though and something about the whole story feels a little … how shall I put it? Familiar? Predictable? It would be a vast exaggeration to say I could have predicted EVERY twist and turn, but the over-all arc did feel like something I already knew from somewhere else.

It did have some great takes on topics such as the rich/poor-divide and gender equality, which I really appreciated. But lastly, I just want to say that I think there is a lot of room for growth in the books to come. Since this is only the first installment in the series, I am looking forward to the next books. I am loving this world already, even if I had a couple of issues with it, I just want to know what happens next.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I liked it, but I just didn’t love it I am afraid.


Do you think you would enjoy this book? Have you heard of it?

23 thoughts on “A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Book Review)

  1. I’ve seen this one around a lot and while I love the whole idea of a fantasy Victorian London setting and the magic system sounds interesting I’m definitely not one for multiple possible love interests, so it’s good to know about that. I might avoid this one myself. Either way great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      Well, I did honestly enjoy reading the book. The world fascinated me and I want to know what’s up with the monsters, but yeah, it felt a little immature in the love department? Does that sound weird? It was still fun all in all, but I am waiting for the sequels to pass my final judgement on the series.


  2. That’s a pity.I had this in my sights (mainly for the cover) but I’m losing my enthusiasm after the reviews. I think I’m just done with the fantasy thing atleast for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was waiting for this aggressively written review of yours hahaha. I’m glad you enjoyed the world building and that, despite the thousands of love interests, you’re still looking forward to the next book in the series. I think I migh way to see if you find it getting better, or not, before adding it to my TBR 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The abundance of love interests puts me off (I actually made a face at my computer when I read that part of the synopsis), but the premise sounds neat, and I’m super intrigued by the monsters. Great review! I’ll go into the book prepared for its shortcomings, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it all the more. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not even always necessary to have 2 people competing for the attention of the MC, but when there’s a possibility of a third one from the beginning (although I changed my opinion about that party later on, but spoilers, so I am not going into detail) it’s just too much.
      I still did enjoy it, so I hope you will too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this first book; the monsters were definitely my favorite part too. I also feel Henrietta is slightly different from other YA protagonists I’ve been reading about. I get that the love “interest” stuff does put people off, but I think there’s a ton of potential. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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