Secrets, powers, and prophecies are a heavy burden to bear. Particularly for a 16 year old girl. Jessica Cluess’s A Shadow Bright and Burning depicts the struggle of one such girl learning about her powers and sharing the burden of her secrets and the prophecy.
Henrietta Howel has a unique ability to burst into flames, particularly when she’s angry. Out of fear of being thought a witch for this ability, Henrietta has tried to keep this a secret, with only her close childhood friend Rook in on her secret. When Sorcerer Agrippa arrives to the school where Henrietta is a governess seeking the female sorcerer prophesied to help defeat the seven monsters threatening the world, her world changes. Taken to London for training, Henrietta begins to learn more about herself, her powers, and sorcerers.
The story was entertaining with it being a Victorian-era Harry Potter-type narrative with a female chosen one. I thought there was a bit too much drama in the romance department, which made it difficult to remember at times that these characters are supposed to be 16 years old–I often found myself thinking that they were much older (which, I concede, could fit with the time the story was set). The narrative is well set up for the remainder of the series and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.