| REVIEW – YA/fantasy | a Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (#1 Kingdom on Fire)

| REVIEW – YA/fantasy | a Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (#1 Kingdom on Fire)

a Shadow Bright and Burning Book Cover a Shadow Bright and Burning
#1 Kingdom on Fire
Jessica Cluess
Young adult, fantasy, magic, Historical
Random House
September 20th 2016

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen 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 Howel 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, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

For fans who love reading about magic, great developing friendships, the shadowhunter chronicles books and pride & prejudice.. Here’s the story of a girl with magic abilities who gets caught up in fighting against evil while discovering who she truly is. A beautiful historical setting in jolly old London, being brought to us with some amazing writing skills by this author. A joy to read and I can’t wait to share this review with you guys! Read on if you’re interested in my extended non-spoiler review of A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess, the first book in the Kingdom on Fire trilogy!


Let me start with writing some stuff about the cover. I normally don’t take extra ‘time’ to talk about the cover of a book but this cover is just absolutely stunning and I had to give it some extra attention! I love the rose on fire with the orange and blue flames and after reading the story I love it even more because there’s so much of the story being brought together in the cover! Amazing! I really love these well thought-out covers who are in such great sync with the story inside! And I’m a sucker for beautiful covers so there’s that, lol.


This story-line is truly amazing! A girl who knows she has the ability to use and bend fire to her will, but has to keep it hidden because she knows if she’ll get caught she’ll be murdered. But then someone discovers her and takes her with him to London to live with him and 6 boys who are trained to be sorcerer’s for the Queen of England. They think Henrietta is the prophesied one who will make an end to all the terror the Ancient and their familiars bring upon the world – there are 7 Ancients who are true evil and look like hideous beasts, beasts made up of nightmares, brr. Their cronies are called Familiars and contain some of the power the Ancient possess and bring havoc among the people – so she gets to train to be a Sorcerer as well.

But she discovers her ability’s are something else entirely and it brings her right back to where she was; in danger of being discovered and maybe even killed for what she is. In the meantime her lifetime friend – and somebody she may have some stronger feelings about – Rook is transforming into something neither of them knows what to do with. He’s an Unclean – someone who was attacked by an Ancient and lived but they’re scarred for life and being shunned by society – and him coming to London could’ve been the worst thing that happens to them. So yeah, a LOT is going on in this book and it’s so awesome, really! You need to read this book!

A girl-child of sorcerer stock rises from the ashes of a life.
You shall glimpse her when Shadow burns
in the Fog above a bright city.
You shall know her when Poison drowns
beneath the dark Waters of the cliffs.
You shall obey her when Sorrow falls
unto the fierce army of the Blooded Man.
She will burn in the heart of a black forest;
her fire will light the path.
She is two, the girl and the woman,
and one must destroy the other.
For only then may three become one,
and triumph reign in England.


I’m a sucker for Historical settings and especially ones like these; LONDON. I enjoy every minute of exploring the settings in this book. The centre of the city is being warded by Sorcerers to protect them from the Ancients, but the outskirts of London, where there’s no ward to protect the people from the monsters, looks terrible. Burned down houses, people living in poverty, people getting murdered, etc. And I loved the contrast inside this one city, seeing the better parts of the city and the bad parts where people live who need the sorcerer’s protection just as well but don’t get it. It gave an extra dimension in my mind, you know what I mean? There was so much to visualize in just this one city and I love it.


I loved meeting Henrietta, our main character, who tries to overcome several hurdles throughout the story and comes out of them even stronger at the end, without it being unbelievable. She’s a realistic character, with a feisty appearance when the need rises but at the same time she’s lonely and scared. Her character develops in a slow and steady way, transforming her from a girl trying to find out who she is and scared of being rejected into a kick-ass magic using-heroine. But she’s definitely not the only hero in this story. There are several moments throughout the book, at moments you couldn’t expect beforehand this’ll happen, that there’ll be more hero’s exposed and I absolutely loved seeing them come into action. They’re not always the hero you expected to rise, but all the more better for it, don’t you think? I definitely thinks so, yay haha.

You’ll get hooked on all of the characters inside this book. There are a lot of side characters;  our heroine is surrounded by an assortment of intriguing and unusual men who will all make you swoon (You know the types: the mysterious one, the stand-offish one, the smart one, the funny one, the silent one, and the loyal one). So in the beginning you definitely need to have your wits about you and pay attention so you can get a good feel of who everyone is and such, but boy do these characters make you one happy fangirl!! I love the friendships that develop throughout this story; how Henrietta becomes ‘one of the boys’ for example and how well they all connect with one another in the end even though they didn’t always make it easy for her, especially Mr. Blackwood – who reminds me of Will Herondale, so he’s my favorite character of course, lol WHAHAHA. Everyone has their own personality and it really makes them special and unique, each and every one of em. So, the more it hurts when you’ll get betrayed by some of them, yikes. So yeah, my heart got crushed sometimes *sad face* – but a *happy face* for the fact the author knew how to really surprise me!!

Then there’s Agrippa, who takes on a fatherly role for Henrietta after taking her home with him to London where she can be trained as a sorcerer. And then there’s also the Hargrove  character, who’ll be frequently present in the story as well, as a sort of teacher to Henrietta – I won’t go into details any further because of spoilers and such. But both these characters are so much more then meets the eye and they will definitely surprise you! I really liked Hargrove, because he reminded me of ‘Magnus’ from Clare’s books. The funny, sometimes crazy and euphoric expressions Magnus shows in those books for example; Hargrove shows them as well and he was a joy to read about in his dealing with Henrietta.

But seriously.. All the characters in this story are so like and lovable and I felt like being part of their story while reading this book. I want to belong to their ‘group’ as well! And the mastermind behind the Ancients, the ‘bad guys’, R’hlem, is really scary and so well written it made my skin crawl from time to time. He made a great entrance in this first book and keeps being mysterious throughout the story and I’m so excited to read more about this evil character in the next book. He’s really creepy and I love it hehe. The darker the villain, the more I love it – Yep, my mind works in mysterious ways, I know, lol. The villains in this book are just so awesome hsbfghbdfhgbdfg.. *fangirl modus on*


Yes, there’s romance in this book but not always as you’d expect it to be and that was awesome! – sorry, it sounds really mysterious but I just don’t want to spoil anything, lol. It’s refreshing and I can’t wait to see what’ll happen in the next book. It feels very realistic because it’s a mess sometimes – because Henriette is a mess really, lol but that’s what makes it realistic. Her experiences are new to her and the way she handles her feelings in the romance department are really recognizable and therefore makes this all feel very realistic to me. She gets ‘trapped’ between several characters – and no, it’s not a love triangle, definitely not but there are just some things happening at the same time and I can understand the confusion Henrietta sometimes experiences– and I think the author did a really great job writing on how Henrietta experiences all these different moments with different characters and not knowing how to feel and act and just knowing what/who to want. But I really like the fact the romance is there but doesn’t dominate the story! The story keeps focusing on Henriette finding her way in the midst of all this magic using, fighting the Ancients and just trying to find out who she really is.

And don’t get me started on the plot twists present. They’re there, yes! And they’re awesome and surprising! Several plot twists were written throughout the story which I did not see coming and really surprised me. It’s all perfectly balanced out; the writing/romance/plottwists/story-line developing.. and I’m sooo thrilled about how much I liked all of that.


A fast-paced read I enjoyed immensely. A setting I’m madly in love about, even though there are evil creatures roaming around the place, it still makes me want to go there, lol. Characters who make you wish they were real and adopt you in their little group. A lot of magic which is perfectly woven into the story-line and atop that a story-line which is really awesome and interesting right from the start. My first time around reading this book I gave it a 4 star rating but I upgraded it to a 5 star rating now because seriously? I can’t think of one single thing about why I don’t love this book or what I missed or could’ve been better written, so it really deserves my 5 star rating!!! It contains everything I love in a book; fantasy/magic elements, amazing characters, a truly intense and interesting story-line, plottwists, great writing and a setting so beautifully written it makes you want to jump right into the book so you could be there.. And don’t forget the romance of course, which is refreshing and not always as it seems and I loved it!The whole package is just perfect and completes my inner fangirl and I need MORE!

This first book in the Kingdom on Fire is a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy, magic, fighting off dark and scary creatures, friendship goals, realistic romance, amazing writing, an awesome setting and a terrific story-line! This book leaves you aching for more. There’s so much left to be discovered so I really can’t wait to dive into the sequel and see what’ll happen next and if we get more answers about some things that were left open in this one. This book gives you the ‘complete package-reading experience‘ and sets your inner fangirl heart on fire!!

The second book, a Poison dark and drowning, is due to publish on September 19th and I’m so excited! I’m one of the lucky bastards who got an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley so you’ll definitely be able to read my non-spoiler review of the sequel before the release!



  1. Wow, first of all, you wrote a very detailed and interesting review. You made me soo curious about this book, I really want to read it soon. I have put it on my TBR-list immediately. The cover is also stunning. ( I am a sucker for beautiful covers, haha)
    Do onlangs geplaatst…The Elite – Kiera CassMy Profile

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