Blog Tour: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1) by Jessica Cluess ~ Q&A

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1) 
Hardcover416 pages
Published September 20th 2016 
by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC provided at BEA by publisher
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads


Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied 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 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, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Praise for A Shadow Bright and Burning

"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

"Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world's best hope!" 
—Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"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

"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

Check out my review:

Interview with Jessica Cluess

1. Did you have to do any research for A Shadow Bright and Burning?

Definitely! I also found that setting it in the early Victorian era had its own difficulties—there just isn’t as much information as there would be if I’d chosen the 1880s. One book in particular was very helpful: How To Be A Victorian: A Dawn to Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman. I learned all sorts of fascinating details. For instance, people used to brush their teeth with coal dust! I couldn’t use all the information I found, but it did help me enrich the world.

2. What was your favorite read in 2015?

I really loved An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I’m a sucker for great world building, and hers is truly top notch. It felt like a world I could live in—though I’m not sure I’d want to!

3. What was your favorite scene to write in A Shadow Bright and Burning?

I loved any scene that involved the magician Jenkins Hargrove. I love writing sarcastic, secretive characters, and that’s him all the way. In terms of single scene, there’s one “confession” moment of sorts towards the end of the book that was very dramatic to write…but I don’t want to spoil anything.

4. What is your next project going to be?

I’m working on the sequel as we speak! Things get worse, stakes get higher, people kiss more.

5. At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

This is not the norm, but I knew when I was 24. Before then, I’d always liked writing, but I’d never wanted to pursue it. But when I was just out of college, the recession hit hard. Job prospects weren’t great, I was kind of depressed, and I wanted some sort of escape. So I picked up Dune and read it in about three days. I’d never been a big sci-fi/fantasy person before that, but I got completely swept away. It made me want to write something that gave other people that sort of immersive experience, and the rest is history.

6. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Hybrid, definitely. I’m a plotter in the sense that I have to know what the end goal is, what the midpoint is, what the inciting incident is, etc. If I run in blind, I lose my way really fast. But if I try to force myself to stick to a very rigid outline, I get a better idea halfway through and the whole thing falls apart. It’s best when I give myself both structure and freedom.

7. Whose writing most inspires you?

Oh man, we could be here for years. For this series, Susanna Clarke is kind of my goddess. She wrote Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and her pitch perfect voice and level of detail are just extraordinary. I can’t hope to match her. In general, Stephen King is a huge influence. Sometimes I think I like his forewords or his book On Writing as much as I like his fiction. He’s a pure craftsman, and hearing him talk about it is delightful.

8. What do you hope readers will take away from A Shadow Bright and Burning?

I hope they’ll have a great time, first and foremost. You don’t write about giant, tentacled monsters attacking London to be subtle and cerebral. However, if there’s one big theme I hope people think about, it’s how stupid it is to judge someone’s worth by how they’re born. People should be defined by their thoughts and actions, not their blood.

9. What TV show is a must watch for you?

Game of Thrones. Forever. Every time I hear the theme, I get excited. I also start singing Peter Dinklage’s name over and over, so you can guess who my favorite character is.

10. What inspired A Shadow Bright and Burning?

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I liked how Nicholas was so different from Dickens’ other heroes, in that he was all about action and courage and a lot of bravado—sometimes too much. There’s a scene in the novel where Nicholas physically stops an attack on a defenseless boy. I wondered how a girl in the Victorian era would stop that attack, and the image popped into my head of her opening up her hands…and burning the abuser with fire. The second I saw that, I knew I wanted to write about that girl.

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 and follow her on Twitter at @JessCluess.


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