3:14 PM

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

First things first: I have to admit, I had both doubts and intrigue when it came to this novel. Mostly doubts. I'm a huge fan of a good fantasy novel that deals in witchcraft and the like. So much so that sometimes I get a bit jaded. I naturally hesitated. Hear me out: it took me a bit of time to really get into it, but my guess it was because I had been reading it in between time at work/while I was at the doctors office with my friend. But when I did get into it?

Holy cow, it was so bloody good. Actually, it was fire. I'm telling you guys, this book was practically as flame-worthy as the stunning cover art you see next to my thoughts. Jessica Cluess paints a dark, vivid and magical world in A Shadow Bright and Burning--one thing's for certain based on this release: we're in for a lot as the series continues. I'm more than ready for this adventure.

I should warn you guys that A Shadow Bright and Burning is a fantastic trip but it also had its moments where things felt a bit slow or underwhelming, like we'd been here before. There will be elements that you've seen in other releases of similar plots. But (but!) that's okay because while it did have these hiccups, it was still an excellent read that was fast paced and fulfilling. I found the novel, as a whole, to be a huge page turner once it really got into its groove and it definitely doesn't allow its flaws, nor its slow start, to define it.

Cluess handles her writing with a dark, suspenseful grace that not many people can manage at any point in their career. Her characters are lively, strong and mysterious, the world building on point with so much promise to it. There's this quality to every page that makes you wonder and fills you with something like desire and intrigue; I can't explain how fun it is. It's got a spooky edge to it that ties into the magic and the coming of age tone perfectly and compliments it even in its differences.

What's great about A Shadow Bright and Burning is all the layers to it and the possibility of so much more to come. It's action packed. It's everything a good fantasy novel should be and left me breathless by the final pages. It's the kind of novel that sneaks up on readers and leaves them circling around their series of questions for days after finishing. I'm still sitting here left wondering what it all meant--what it could mean, what the next installment could be and I'm so excited.

Fans of Red Queen and other YA fantasy reads will flock to this release and find themselves filled with delight. It's the perfect autumn read and friendly follow-up to fill the gaps between their favourite series--but it's far from a filler novel. I predict great things to come of this release and its budding fan base, even so soon after its release, is proof.

If you're looking for something vivid and fantastical, A Shadow Bright and Burning is the book for you.

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