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A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One)

Cover of A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One)

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One)

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"Vivid characters, terrifying monsters, and world building as deep and dark as the ocean."
—Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Queen


I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.
"The magic! The intrigue! The guys! We were sucked into this monster-ridden, alternative England from page one. Henrietta is literally a 'girl on fire' and this team of sorcerers training for battle had a pinch of Potter blended with a drop of [Cassandra Clare's] Infernal Devices."
Justine Magazine
"Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world's best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!"
Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook."
Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author
"Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the 'chosen one' archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you forget yourself."
—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen
"A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger."
Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters
From the Hardcover edition.
"Vivid characters, terrifying monsters, and world building as deep and dark as the ocean."
—Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Queen


I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.
"The magic! The intrigue! The guys! We were sucked into this monster-ridden, alternative England from page one. Henrietta is literally a 'girl on fire' and this team of sorcerers training for battle had a pinch of Potter blended with a drop of [Cassandra Clare's] Infernal Devices."
Justine Magazine
"Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world's best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!"
Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook."
Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author
"Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the 'chosen one' archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you forget yourself."
—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen
"A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger."
Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    1

    The sorcerer arrived on a Saturday.

    Sarah, barely six years old, squeezed my hand as we walked the school corridors toward the headmaster's parlor. I'd allowed her to wear her gray cloak indoors because the morning fires hadn't yet been laid. Fog pressed in against the high windows, darkening the stone hall. For Sarah's sake, I kept a smile on my face. My fear could not win today.

    "Will he beat me, Henrietta? I mean, Miss Howel?" She often forgot to use my last name, but I'd only become a teacher two months before. Sometimes when I stood at the head of the classroom to give a lesson, I'd look at the empty place on the student bench where I used to sit, and feel like a fraud.

    "A sorcerer would never harm children," I said, squeezing her hand in return. Granted, I'd never met a sorcerer, but Sarah didn't need to know that.

    She smiled and sighed. How simple to reassure her. How difficult to reassure myself, for why would a royal sorcerer travel to Yorkshire for an audience with a child? Was the war against the Ancients going so poorly that he needed young girls, armed with sewing needles and a little French, for the front lines?

    No. He had heard about the fires.

    We entered the parlor to find two men seated before the hearth, sipping their tea. This was the only heated room in the entire school, and I rubbed my numb fingers in appreciation. Sarah raced past the men to warm her hands and, embarrassingly, her backside before the fireplace.

    "Miss Howel!" our headmaster snapped, leaping up from his chair. "Control that child at once."

    I motioned Sarah back to me, and we curtsied together.

    "Good day, Mr. Colegrind," I murmured. Colegrind was a pale, hook-nosed gentleman with gray whiskers and a gray personality. When I was five, he'd terrified me. Now that I was sixteen, I found him repulsive.

    He frowned. "Why does Sarah wear her cloak?"

    "The fires haven't been lit, sir," I said, stating what should have been bloody obvious. Dreadful man. "I didn't want her shivering before our illustrious guest." Colegrind sniffed. I gave him my least sincere smile.

    The other man, who had been surveying our scene with a cup of tea, rose to his feet.

    "It's all right," the sorcerer said. "Little girls must keep warm." He knelt before Sarah. "How are you, my dear?"

    This man couldn't be a sorcerer. I'd always pictured the royal Order as being filled with humorless men who wore simple robes and smelled of cabbage water. This gentleman was more like a grandfather from a storybook, with a shock of curling salt-and-pepper hair, dimpled cheeks, and warm brown eyes. He swept off his cape, trimmed with sable fur, and wrapped it around Sarah. She hugged herself.

    "There, now," he said. "Just the right fit." He nodded to me. "You're very good to take such care of her."

    I lowered my eyes. "Thank you, sir," I mumbled. As he stood, I noticed something hanging in a sheath by his side. It was the length of a sword, but it had to be his sorcerer's stave, the great instrument of his power. I'd heard of such things but never glimpsed one. I gasped without thinking.

    Agrippa patted the handle. "Would you like to see it?" he asked.

    Bloody fool, I was supposed to be unnoticeable today. For once, I was grateful for Colegrind's interruption.

    "Master Agrippa," Colegrind said, "shall we proceed?"

    The sorcerer guided Sarah to a chair while I remained by the wall, invisible as always. Schoolteachers don't stand out naturally, and I...

About the Author-
  • JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories. Visit her at jessicacluess.com and follow her on Twitter at @JessCluess.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 11, 2016
    Sixteen-year-old Henrietta Howel can start fires with a thought, but because women aren’t permitted to practice magic, she must keeps her power under wraps at the Brimthorn School for Girls, where she teaches in a magical version of Victorian London. After a sorcerer, Master Agrippa, visits the school, an attack by a “Familiar” of the (decidedly Lovecraftian) Ancients forces Henrietta’s hand. Agrippa believes that Henrietta is integral to fighting the Ancients, offering to train her for eventual commendation by a young Queen Victoria and a place among the royal sorcerers. She agrees, on the condition that her childhood friend Rook comes along. In a strong opening to the Kingdom on Fire trilogy, debut author Cluess makes the most of her setting, never shying from gritty details, such as the “burned and ravaged” London outside the wards that protect the sorcerers; the contentious history between sorcerers and magicians adds heft. Henrietta is pragmatic and bitingly funny, and she more than holds her own in a man’s world. Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Brooks Sherman, Bent Agency.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One)
A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One)
Jessica Cluess
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