A Shadow Bright and Burning
By Jessica Cluess
Random House, 2016. 207 pages. Young Adult Fantasy
In an alternate Victorian England, the country has been under attack for years by powerful demon type beings known as the seven Ancients. There are three types of magic practiced in this world but only sorcery is legal, and it is exclusively male. Henrietta, a young woman living in a rural Yorkshire orphanage, fears her powers to summon fire will have her executed for witchcraft. But when they are eventually revealed, she is astonished to be hailed as the prophesied female sorcerer who will finally defeat the seven Ancients.
Henrietta only agrees to go to London to train as a sorcerer if her childhood friend, Rook, can come along. Years before, Rook was attacked by one of the Ancients and has been fighting a bond to the creature ever since. As Henrietta settles into her new life, making friends with some of the young male sorcerers in training, she is drawn to a trickster magician living on the streets of London. It is through him that she learns the true nature of her ability which may threaten to tip the very precarious balance between human beings and the Ancients.
Young Adult fantasy fans will find much to like in this new series. Henrietta is a strong female who is pragmatic and funny. While in many ways, this is a re-tread of standard fantasy elements such as a Harry Potter-like chosen one, there is still enough fresh detail to make it interesting. One personal complaint is the use of evil monsters from the horror world. I prefer more traditional fantasy evils. Fans of The Dark Days Club should definitely check this book out.