Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Kingdom on Fire, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I was kind of nervous about this book--it seems that people either love it or hate it, no in between. And I did love it--parts of it. Overall, this debut was really solid--I mean, Dickensian England? Demons and dark magic? A take-charge heroine? Adorable, brooding boys? It all seemed perfect--and parts of it were. I really enjoyed it, overall, but there were some parts that I founding lacking. First, the love triangle. I like love triangles, as long as they're done in a way that isn't instant love. Why is it in nearly every single teen novel, there has to be a love triangle?
But my favorite parts of the novel were the setting, a Victorian England straight out of Dickens novels--I was really impressed. It captured my imagination, and I really liked it. But the real star of the book was Henrietta, the mysteriously magical young woman that is the focus of the novel. She was spunky and couragerous, fierce and fiesty, and all at the same time insecure and longing for love. She was really complex and exciting, and I really related to her a lot. I also really liked the other characters, especially the boys that become Henrietta's friends. The worldbuilding was also wonderful--I really enjoyed it.
The pacing also really sold this book for me--I couldn't put it down. Watching TV, or anime wih my husband, last night, was an ordeal--I couldn't pull myself away from this book. Despite its shortcomings, like the love triangle, I really liked it--it was a fantastic debut, and I can't wait for the sequel! Next on deck: American Gods by Neil Gaiman!