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A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess - Review

July 7, 2018


My rating: 3 of 5 Stars

How I Got It: eBook Purchase

Publication Date: September 2016

Publisher: Random House

Point of View: 1st Person Heroine

Genre: YA Fantasy





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I've had to stop and think about this one for a while before deciding how to rate it. On the one hand, I was really impressed with the author's imagination! On the other hand . . . I was so bored.


Ultimately I do think this is a case of "me, not you." I'm just not a big fan of Magic School stories. I picked this up for the Lovecraftian monsters, but what I got was a lot of wand-training sequences. Plenty of people LOVE this kind of story (you know . . . that handful of readers who enjoy Harry Potter and the like), but it's just not my thing.


The opening chapters were FANTASTIC. Gripping, terrifying, really setting up a situation that seems IMPOSSIBLE for Henrietta, our heroine, to surmount. I love ridiculously impossible odds like that! The monsters were glimpsed were the stuff of horror stories, the monsters hinted at were even worse. It was shaping up to be a wow read.


But it just never got there. Aside from a few high-point moments here and there, most of the story just didn't grab me. I liked Henrietta well enough, but I didn't care for any of her potential beaus (one of them I actively HATED). And . . . I don't know. It just wasn't what I expected.


That being said, you shouldn't let my review stop you from picking it up! If you like Magic School stories, you'll probably love this unique take on magic. And maybe if you go into it with slightly different expectations than I had, you'll like it more.


Still haven't decided if I'm going to read book 2. Probably not for a while, but maybe the mood will strike me?

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