Monday, June 16, 2014

Early Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire
by Josephine Angelini 
Read: May 28 - 30, 2014
Published: September 2, 2014 by Feiwel &Friends 
Source: ARC from Macmillan - Thank you!
Category: Alternate reality, witches, Salem, Mass. sci-fi, YA

Series: The Worldwalker trilogy #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Josephine Angelini writes some addicting stories. I wasn't sure how the witches + alt reality set up of this story would work out for me, but I ended up liking Trial by Fire a lot. I definitely couldn't put it down. Plus it's always fun to read a story that takes place in your backyard. 

Set-upLily lives in present day Salem, Massachusetts, where her life is a daily struggle to survive a compounding amount of environmental and food allergies. It doesn't help that her mom is a little crazy and her dad is pretty much absent. But she has the constant support of her sister Juliet and her best friend Tristan. Lily has been interested in Tristan as more than a friend for quite a while, and it finally seems like he's noticing her. But after a disastrous night at a high school party, which almost kills her, Lily gets transported to a different Salem, Massachusetts. One filled with magic and witches, all ruled by an alternate version of her, Lillian. Only this girl is the villain in the tale. 

Parallel worldsI generally avoid parallel world/alternate reality books like the plague. Mostly, because the main character is typically in the head of multiple versions of herself and that means love triangles and confusion for me. So I appreciated that the characters in each of these realities were distinct individuals. Although the story feels very contemporary high school when Lily is in her Salem, once she travels to the alternate New Salem, the story becomes something different entirely. I loved meeting the alternate versions of characters we'd known before, as well as new people too. It's definitely an interesting nature vs. nurture debate to see what other versions of people have become. 

Still, I did have trouble in places seeing Lillian as an evil villain. We don't spend a lot of time with her, and she rarely interacts with Lily. We also don't get her full motives or plans. I think also, because she was a version of Lily, I sympathized with her. Or at least felt like I didn't fully understand her enough to judge her, and I gave her some slack, despite the awful things she'd done. But all that also served to make the story and her character more compelling too, and it's one of the reasons this book was so very intriguing. I can't wait to see where her character goes in the future. 

Magic. The New Salem to which Lily is transported is a place ruled by witches who wield incredible magic. The difference between men and women's abilities and how their talents work together is fascinating. Although all people have some magic in them, women are the most powerful, and Lily is one of the strongest. The strength of her ability has to do with why her Salem was physically killing her. But Lily, like other female witches, works best when her magic is projected through others. She also needs Mechanics (doctors/healers for witches) like Rowan to keep her healthy. Oh Rowan. We will get to him next. 

Romance. [I'm going to outline this for those who like these details. Not major plot spoilers, but I'm candid about the romantic elements.] I would not consider this story to have any sort of Love Triangle, although it is a bit of of a progression in the beginning. It's clear pretty quickly that Tristan is not a great match for Lily, and I don't think there is any threat of that relationship reviving in any future world. Especially, after she meets Rowan in the alternate Salem. 

Rowan used to be Lillian's head Mechanic and how he hates her for very valid reasons. Then he meets Lily who is a version of Lillian but also is very much not her, and he dislikes her on sight. I really liked the way that Lily and Rowan's relationship starts off antagonistically and takes time to build slowly over the course of the book, as they discover who each other is. Even by the end they are not trying to rush anything, which hopefully will mean that the author won't introduce an awkward triangle in future books to add tension (I hate when that happens). 

However, just as I had trouble seeing Lillian as an evil villain, I struggled with the Lillian - Rowan - Lily situation. It's very clear that Rowan and Lillian once had a relationship. I don't think that Rowan would ever go back to Lillian, but it is a little awkward watching him move on to another version of her. I want to know more about how much his feelings for Lily are wrapped in Lillian - and see them separate from that. This lessened as the book continued, and I think the romance has potential to be very strong and epic as it continues. But it was uncomfortable at times, though that's also a reason why it intrigued me. 

Cliffhangers.  The end of this book is especially exciting. I really, really liked the direction it took, and that has made me quite impatient for the next installment. It's one of those cliffhangers that makes you eager to keep reading, instead of stressed out. It's also a good breaking point in the series. 

Final thoughts. I read Trial by Fire a few weeks ago, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. There was something incredibly compelling about this story for me. It's funny because the romance made me slightly uncomfortable, and I was't completely sold on the villain. But those elements somehow combined to make me more excited about what happens next. I want to know a lot more about these characters and I'm eager to get back into this story. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - more exciting/anticipatory than stressful. A good breaking point. 


  1. I can't wait to read this one! I love Josephine Angelini and even though I am not the biggest witch fan, I am willing to give it a shot because it's.... Josephine Aneglini! But what I do love are parallel universes and reality books, there have been quite a few a while ago and it's been drying out.
    I love it when a book stays with you for so long!

  2. I love the sound of this, but I'm not sure if it's for me.. Hmmm. *reads further* I'm intirgued about Lillian even though she probably, by what I take from your thoughts, could have been developed more thoroughly. I hope she'll keep your interest in the future books ;) Rowan is such a cool name and I can't wait to meet him--their romance seems fascinating and slow-build? YESSSS. Though yeah, please Josie! Don't give us a triangle =/ Ehh, ok, that Lillian Rowan thing is a tad akward indeed. Ha! I'm so glad you found this to be extremely compelling and a medium cliffhanger I can handle. Ok, after your review, I really want to read this one now. Bring it, Josie! :) Lovely review, Lauren!

  3. Oh I didn't even realise that this book was about parallel/alternative universes Lauren, I haven't read many books which deal with this, but I am a huge fan. I don't know why but for some reason I overlooked this book a few weeks back thinking that it wouldn't be for me, but I think you've convinced me otherwise to give this book a go, I may have to go and request a copy, as I'm highly intrigued about how things ended! Lovely review as always!

  4. Lauren, your reviews are so convincing. I wasn't sure about this book before, so I never ended up requesting it, but reading your review has changed my decision.
    I usually struggle with books that have alternate universes but I can tell that this is going to be an exception. After I read The Crucible in high school, I was fascinated by everything to do with the witch trials in Salem. So, I'm very curious as to how the author incorporated those elements into the story.
    Also, thank you for clearing up the romantic situation. I'm a huge fan of antagonistic romances too, so I think I'm going to love the romance in this book. The Lillian-Rowan-Lily situation reminds me of the whole doppleganger plot line in The Vampire Diaries. I was iffy about that in that series, but I'm still very curious.
    Fabulous review, Lauren!

  5. I love, love, love how detailed this review is. I've seen mostly negative reviews for this author's previous trilogy, so I was skeptical about this new start but it seems to be truly promising. While the romance is definitely strange and has love triangle tingling all over it, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed it steers clear of one. I'm definitely planning to read this one, now, so thanks for adding it to my TBR, Lauren! We'll have to compare thoughts once I get to this, but you've definitely made me excited for it, without a doubt. :)

  6. YAY :D Amazing review sweetie. <3 I just got an ARC of this one today :D So I will be reading it very soon. <3 And I cannot wait. SO happy that there is no love triangle. I cannot wait to meet Lily and Rowan. <3 Excited :) Thank you so much for sharing :D And I'm so glad you mostly loved it. <3

  7. This cover!! This totally doesn't seem like my type of book, but your review is really pushing me to read it! The cover is so eye-catching, and you're convinced me that I just may really enjoy this one after all. :) Great review!

  8. Ooh, now I'm even more excited about this! I might have to break my plan of reading my ebooks before breaking into any more BEA books. I actually like an ending like this one has, with anticipation versus a cliffie ('cause those suck). And despite the previous romance with Rowan and Lillian, it sounds like it has fabulous promise.

  9. This one is on my TBR list, but after reading your review, I'm even more excited to read it! I actually love alternate world type books and part of it is because of the different versions of people making things complicated. The Lily and Roman relationship sounds great to me, I love when they start in an antagonistic way. It does make you wonder how much he can separate Lillian from Lily, but that complication makes it interesting. Great review! ~Pam

  10. I can't believe I haven't heard of this book! O.o Its been a very very very long time since I've read any books that feature witches or alternate worlds, and these two elements are whats keeping me intrigued to this story. I am sooo looking forward to the romance in this as well. While I am iffy on the whole Lillian-Rowan-Lily situation, I am sure it will prove to be very interesting when looking at its outcome. Glad you enjoyed this, Lauren! Wonderful review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  11. Very interesting! It sounds like it might be a tad heavy on the romance for me, but the world and magic sound so intriguing. Decisions, decisions. Thanks for the great review! :)

  12. OH MY GOSH, LAUREN. You had my blood pumping more and more at each point because I LOVE ALL OF THESE THINGS. Cliff-hangers (okay, not so much), parallel worlds, and the GIRL being the villain. I actually never realized how the girl being a villain is uncommon (unless she's a contemporary mean girl) until now. I love all of this. No wonder it's on my TBR ;)

  13. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read Trial By Fire. AND THEN, I read your review and now I really want it! Even with the slightly problematic love interest and villain, Trial By Fire still sounds really, really good. I love how it doesn't feel like a story I've ever read before -- and I definitely want to check it out!

  14. I was worried about the parallel worlds so thanks for assuaging my doubts. I can't wait to pick this one up, especially after your review. Just a few more to work through before I can get to my ARC. :)

  15. This sounds really fascinating! Over the past year or so I've grown to be really fascinated by stories featuring parallel worlds. I do think it's a difficult concept to get right, but, if you do, there's just so much you can do with it. It sounds like Angelini's application of parallel worlds worked rather well overall, which is good to hear.
    Wonderful review, Lauren!

  16. Great review! I'm super excited to read this one :) I skimmed the romance part of your review, I like to be in the dark about that stuff. I'm glad that the end doesn't have one of those stressful cliffhangers, yet leaves you wanting the next book like asap ;) I actually do really like stories with parallel worlds or sliding doors. They're super fun, when done well.

    -diamond @ Dee's Reads

  17. Christina R. in the rafflecopter

    LOVE that it's not a love triangle but is still totally unique in its dynamic!!

    Glad the world is interesting!

    Lovely review :)

  18. Great review. I loved the Starcrossed series so I can't wait for this one. <3

  19. Your review only made me want to read this more! I've been avoiding it since I heard there was a cliffhanger but I just don't think I can wait on the next book. I LOVE that there is NOT a love triangle :) :)

  20. I have not read any of Ms. Angelini's books before, but you sure have me pumped up for this one! It's not so much the alternate reality as it is the reality itself with the magic. Oh and the romance doesn't hurt one darn bit! I loved your review, it just makes me want to read this even more!

  21. I've really wondered about this one. Being allergic to everything on the planet myself, I was drawn to the book, but I also wondered if heroine would be strong and likeable. I appreciate your well-rounded review. I now find myself really looking forward to this book.

  22. I can't wait to read this book! The buzz has been enormous and I haven't read one negative review so far.

  23. (This is Darith L.)

    Whoa, I did not know it's an alternate reality book! It does sound like New Salem is the better realm, and I'm intrigued by how the magic system works in this world! Definitely looking forward to read it!

  24. I've been dying to read this one!! It sounds really amazing with a ton of great aspects. Magic and witches!! Thanks for your wonderful review - I need to bump this up on my TBR now!

  25. I appreciate your thought-out and detailed review! I'm very intrigued in Salem and the Salem witch trials. This book sounds really different and unique! I will be on the lookout for it!

  26. I am definitely looking forward to Trial by Fire. It sounds fantastic. However, I admit that I am nervous about it, for two reasons. One, I didn't enjoy the authors previous series very much. I read Starcrossed, but struggled through it. I still decided to give the next book a shot, but I ended up skimming most of it, and have not read the final book. So, that worries me. And two, I have read some not so positive reviews for the book and that also worries me. But then I read a review like yours, and I get excited again. I will definitely read it when I get the chance. I hope that I end up LOVING it! After all, witches are one of my favorite things to read about and especially anything to do with Salem

  27. You make it sound so so so good. I can't wait to read it. Some people have been leaving pretty negative reviews, but you restored my faith in the book.

  28. I really enjoyed your review and loved how detailed it was and how it was broken up. You definitely made me want to read this book so it will be going on my tbr list.

  29. Great review! I agree with you with pretty much everything you said about this book! I can't wait for the second installment.


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