Brightly Burning – Alexa Donne


Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.


I received an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! This year, I’m spending the holidays alone, so I decided to host a Christmas readathon on Instagram (if you’re reading this on Christmas Day, there is still time to join – dm me @asthebookends). This was my second read of the 48 hour marathon.

I’ve had my eye on this particular book for a while. Not only is the cover gorgeous, the premise is fantastic – a Jane Eyre retelling in space? Hell yes! Sign me up! Thank you SO MUCH to HMH Teen for sending me a copy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this reimagining of Jane Eyre. The plot elements were all there, and the way that the story was adapted was extremely clever. Donne did a great job incorporating the original book’s story line into a dystopian sci-fi. The romance was still prevalent, but there was a phenomenal plot line as well. The mystery and intrigue surrounding the Rochester and Hugo was well played out – the romance between Hugo and Stella developed at great pace, and the world building was pretty fantastic.

Hugo was an immensely charming and broody character, and Stella was wonderfully fresh and sharp of tongue. Hugo’s little sister was a fantastic addition to the book, and I enjoyed every scene she was in. I really connected with all of the secondary characters, with the exception of one (we can discuss that in a minute though).

The book never had a dull moment either, and kept me interested from beginning to end. I read it in one sitting and never found myself just desperate to put it down. I wanted to keep reading, to see where the plot would go. The writing and imagery was on point, and I look forward to reading more books from this particular author.

There were a couple of things that, for me, kept this from being a 5 star read. The first was that I didn’t understand the need to even have George as a character. No spoilers, I promise, but he ultimately served no purpose. His entire role in the book could have been taken over by Jon, a character whom I enjoyed much more. The second issue I had was the major conflict between Stella and Hugo. It was certainly a well planned conflict, tying into both their romance and the overall plot of the book. However, I felt that it was resolved too quickly. Additionally, I didn’t feel any REAL tension between the two characters. I liked them both, and wanted them to be together, but there interaction didn’t set my heart racing. Finally, I wish there had been more character development from the villain – I never really learned or understood his motives, and his ending wasn’t really a satisfying resolution for me.

My Takeaway: A clever and unique reimagining of one of my favorite classics, Brightly Burning, was an easy one sitting read. Though there were a few things I would change, it was, overall, a clever sci-fi dystopian romance. 

8 thoughts on “Brightly Burning – Alexa Donne

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