Ultra Negative Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1) by Jessica Cluess

23203252A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy

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I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s 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?


Looks like it’s a real ”Throwback Thursday” situation, because this book reminded me of oh so many fantasy novels I have read in my life.

If you have little to no experience with fantasy novels, A Shadow Bright and Burning will shine like a star through your eyes.

But if you do, its true nature will surface and you will see this book for what it actually is: a poorly written book that stands for the unique reason that it’s made of dozens of elements taken from dozens of different novels.

If you’ve read The Infernal Devices, The Vampire Diaries, Grave Mercy or literally anything remotely interesting with magic or supernatural elements, don’t bother with this one.

She’s trying, the author really is trying. But she’s playing it safe! She divulgates very little about the world-building and its history, the magic and its provenance, the Ancients and their reason for existing.

So very little it’s a shame. And the writing… It isn’t bad, alright? It isn’t bad because, again, she’s playing it safe. The sentences are short, so very short, and she uses countless of idioms and commonly used expressions or even sentences in literature.

It’s all too clean. There are no quotes to highlight because the author isn’t inventive. She just knows how to put words one after another to form a novel, but her words are not impressive or worth remembering.

One thing that proves my argument is the amount of dialogs. To me, it seemed as if she didn’t describe characters, situations, buildings or emotions enough because she just didn’t want to. I get it, dialogs are more fun to write, but come on. What is more important is usually what isn’t being said, if you know what I mean.

Could the characters’ names be more annoying? Dee, Blackwood, Henrietta aka Nettie, Agrippa, Magnus (TMI/TID, Magnus Chase, Falling Kingdoms anyone?), Cornelius, Palehook, Rook, Cellini, etc. Those were all men, by the way, except for Henrietta.

The characters, too, are not original. They’re fine, but Jessica Cluess inspired herself a little too much of the memorable Tessa, Jem, Will and Magnus Bane from The Infernal Devices. It’s so obvious I feel angry at the lack of originality.

I may finish this sometime if I ever find a reason to, but for now, it’s a ‘‘did not finish’’ at page 174, ladies and gents.

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18 thoughts on “Ultra Negative Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1) by Jessica Cluess

  1. Oh, I’m so sad to hear you didn’t like it.
    It’s one of my most anticipated books this year. I’m still going to read it but… well, negative reviews are bound to bring me down.
    Still, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. I always admire how fearless you are in saying “I didn’t like this book”, even with really hyped ones (:


  2. I’ve been really looking forward to this book so it’s a shame to hear you didn’t like it! I’ll still give it a go but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the things you picked up on. Thanks for such a detailed review!


  3. Oh no! Sorry you didn’t like this one at all. I still want to give t a try, but I’ll lower my expectations for sure. Maybe borrow from the library too. Also, those are some annoying names lol! Hope your next read is a million times better!


  4. Oh no! This makes me so sad as I am/was eager for this one! And I love The Infernal Devices so if she’s leaned heavily on that I may not be able to see past it. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it at all. 😦


  5. It’s always hard writing reviews on books you don’t like enough to finish reading 😦 this book originally caught my eye because of the cover, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it now. Thanks for saving me some time, money and pain Lola! ♥


  6. Luckily I’m not really looking forward to this book (but can we talk about how beautiful that cover is and how great it would look in a bookshelf?) ahhh what a waste.


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