|Thanks so much to Nori and Random House!|
Expected Publication: September 20th, 2016 by Random House
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
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?
Now, through no fault of its own, it took me over a month to read A Shadow Bright and Burning. It is a little long - at least compare to what I've been reading lately, which is really just contemporaries - but I've been having a hard time just picking up a book and reading it, no matter how good. And so this did lead to a little confusion on my part, particularly about who Blackwood even was or what the Ancients were, human or otherwise. And that did lessen my enjoyment a little, but like I said, that one is definitely my fault.
The author's writing style really does a fantastic job of drawing you into the world. This version of England is a perfect setting for the story and the way that it's described is truly magical. I could see it all so perfectly, and it might sound cheesy, but I could really feel the city, the people, the house.
Sexism plays a pretty significant part in this novel. Henrietta has an intriguing affinity for fire (as in, well, she can literally set herself on fire) but females? Being sorcerers? It doesn't happen. And that's something that plagues Henrietta throughout the novel, something that she comments on several times. It isn't just pushed aside and ignored. Henrietta struggles in her lessons as a sorcerer, and the fact that she's female draws even more attention to that. People makes comments, she makes a few speeches about it, and I really admired her strength in that respect.
Sometimes I wished that I could actually burn.Besides her responses to some of the blatant sexism that occurred, I really admired Henrietta for her struggle with maybe not being the one from the prophecy. She's so determined to prove to people that she's good, that she's capable, that they didn't make a mistake in bringing her to train with sorcerers. It's almost heartbreaking.
I was pretty neutral on the romance throughout. Yes, there's kind of a love triangle, and I can't say that I know for sure where it's going to end up. But the good news - I liked both of the love interests! I didn't love them, and I wanted more information about them, but I thought they were equally good love choices for Henrietta and both really respected her. BUT THEN. Somehow in the last 20% or so they both went really, really downhill for me, and the romance began to feel so ridiculous. Which sucked. The other good news - romance definitely isn't the focus of this novel!
I don't normally like to comment on plots too much (besides maybe pacing) for fear of spoilers, but here's what I will say: the plot in A Shadow Bright and Burning is interesting and magical and there was even a twist or two, but I didn't see anything terribly unique to it. However, the writing really brought it to life.
tl;dr: A Shadow Bright and Burning has a heroine who's so easy to connect and sympathize with that I'm confident you guys will love her. While I didn't find any astounding originality, the descriptive writing was beautiful and unique and really drew me in. 3.75 stars but I don't have a cat for that.
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