'' ''You are stronger than you imagine. I see it. In time, you'll see it, too.'' ''
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is 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?
I have put off reading A Shadow Bright and Burning for too long. I have deprived myself from the reading experience, the excitement, the feelings. Or, should I say, The Feelings.
All sorcerers are born male. There are magicians and witches, but hey are shunned form the society. Especially, witches are. So, when Henrietta's powers are discovered by a sorcerer called Agrippa, the world turns upside down. Shipped to London to study magic and learn more about her powers, Henrietta unravels the secrets of the Order one by one. She doesn't know who to trust, and can't turn to her bestfriend Rook anymore, since the Unclean aren't as tolerated in the heart of London as they are on the outskirts of the countryside.
If I would talk about all the things I loved in this book, we would be here for hours. So, let's do the quite shortened version.
A magician and a female sorcerer summoned the seven Ancients to roam the land. They all brought unimaginable horrors with them, and their servants, the Familiars, brought havoc onto the citizens. To be attacked by an Ancient and to survive it, meant a life as an outcast of the society. The sorcerers try to protect the country from the Ancients, looking for a way to destroy the Ancients for good. Their answer: the prophecised one, the first female sorcerer after the one who unleashed the Ancients.
The plot takes a sturdy grip of you on the first page and does not let go. It still hasn't, and it's been sometime since I finished the book. There are so many twists and turns in it, you don't even realise you've taken, until you ran into the consquences. The Sorcerers Order's politics and secrets are what draws further in the web of lies and half-truths, to a state of mind where you suspect everything and everyone.
'' ''Your stupidity is terrifying.'' ''
Henrietta Howel starts are an easily frightened mouse, afraid of her own powers, scared to be discovered. She is loyal, maybe a bit too much, throughout the book. She tries to survive in the society's eyes, being examined and prodded for every move she makes and every word she says. There isn't a moments rest for her. As she uncovers the secrets the Sorcerers Order tries to keep, she comes more and more out of her shell. She has the hunger for information, for the truth, but in a world where nothing is done transparently, the truth is hard to come by.
Rook has survived the attack of an Ancient, leaving him covered in scars. Now he is called Unclean and shunned by the world. There are places where his presence is tolerated a bit more, but the heart of London isn't one of them. He and Henrietta have been friends for years, so when he follows Henrietta to Agrippa's mansion, taking work in the stables, their relationship is not looked upon so well as it used to. Rook's a bit passive nature doesn't change too much in the book, sometimes so that you almsot forget about his presence in the manor, until you run into him, that is.
I could list all the other characters here, do a full analysis on each of them, but this is going to be ten pages if I do that. There a plethora of other characters that are vital to the plot, even if they seem unimportant in the beginning.They all are their own individuals, with their own quirks and motivations. Some are plain honest, some have their own shenanigans on the background. You think you can trust them, but something nags in the back of your mind. You can't know for sure, which of them are truly trustworthy.
Let's talk about politics. There is nothing better than a book, that let's you in the heart of the governments politics. Now, you may think, wait, aren't almost all dystopian/fantasy books like that? Nope. The way A Shadow Bright and Burning let's you in is extraordinary. You get glimpses and sneak peeks of the way the Country is ruled. You get to see the strenghts and weaknesses it posesses. You find the true leaders, the underdogs, the people who just fill the space. Who is ruled by who and what are their motivations. You get to see the secrets firsthand, finding out who is untrue to themselves. It's just amazing, I have no other word for it. You get be in the heart of the biggest sham in the book.
Now that I have babbled on of what I really loved in this book, I realized (to my horror), I don't have the second book in the series. Now, I go and order that one, and you go order yours. With express delivery.