Imagine a Victorian England where demons called Ancients terrorize the countryside and only sorcerers that are centralized in London can help. Other magic wielders, magicians and witches, are considered scrounges of society as they supposedly opened the gateway for the Ancients to come. That is where Henrietta lives in fear as she believes she is a witch because she can light herself on fire. But an attack by a familiar of an Ancient brings to light that she is actually a sorcerer and is whisked away to London to be the “chosen one” that will help win the war. Now that you know the background, lets get to my A Shadow Bright and Burning review.
Henrietta can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
A Shadow Bright and Burning Review
Henrietta is just a girl trying to keep her head down and not draw the attention of a visiting sorcerer and to keep her Unclean friend, Rook, safe. (Unclean means that a person was attacked my an ancient and survived, but almost always have some sort of scars from it). But when the sorcerer realizes that she is also a sorcerer, he takes her to train in London and Rook comes along. There Henrietta is thrust not only into sorcerer training, but high society. She has to quickly learn to navigate the political waves within the sorcerer community all while learning how to become a sorcerer.
After some time, Henrietta continues to struggle with how sorcerers handle magic. She knows her and Rook’s life depend on her successfully being commended by the queen as a full sorcerer. A chance meeting with another magic user makes Henrietta realize she isn’t the chosen female sorcerer but knows that she has to keep up the facade. She continues to master her powers in her own way as she moves closer to commendation.
The night of her commendation Henrietta is blindsided by people she trusted. She finds out who her true friends are and has to make difficult decisions. Does she help the people she loves or help the city she now calls home? Neither option is good, but she has to do one or the other.
For me, that decision is what makes the book. While there are certainly bad people and good people, do the “bad” people’s ends justify their actions? Will Henrietta’s actions of going against the bad people actually make things worse?
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Overall: A Shadow Bright and Burning review
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed following Henrietta as she explores her powers and realizes what she truly is. Plus the ending wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, so that is certainly a +1 for this book. I would recommend this if you enjoy Victorian England mixed with magic and political intrigue and don’t mind some slightly awkward not-quite love triangles.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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