Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Book One of The Worldwalker Trilogy
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?
What I Liked:
Holy smokes, I did not expect to like this book so much. I know that sounds bad, but I didn't *love* Angelini's debut series. I didn't hate it or anything, but it wasn't really a series I enjoyed. I did love the Greek mythology foundation though. Anyway, I really liked the sound of this book. Witches? I know, I usually don't like the sound of this book. But I don't mind being proven wrong, when it comes to books. And hey, this witch book turned out to be EPIC! And AWESOME!
Lily has a rough life - she's allergic to basically everything, which is a problem, because no one wants to hang out with the sick girl. I mean, dang, you can't even wear hairspray around her. Poor Lily! When her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan, finally wakes up and notices her, she can't not go to the party with him. But at the party, she is humiliated, and suddenly... she's not in her Salem anymore. She's pulled into an alternate Salem, in which she meets an exact copy of her. The thing is, Lillian is a powerful witch in this world, and she is evil. Everyone thinks Lily is Lillian, and wants to kill Lily. But Lily must trust Rowan, Lillian's ex-mechanic, and a few other mechanics, in order to survive, and defeat Lillian.
Okay, for some reason, I thought this book was completely historical fiction. Like, set in the time of the Salem Witch Trials, etc. That's not the case. This book starts out in the modern world, in which Lily is with her best friend/crush Tristan. But then Lily is transported to a world similar to that of what we readers know as the Salem witch trials. That world definitely has a historic feel to it, but everything is highly paranormal. Witches and crucibles are in abundance, as is magic.
I LOVE the worldbuilding in this book. Angelini does an amazing job of crafting the world of Salem (both of them), and developing the magic. The willstones is such a cool touch, and all of its properties and restrictions and powers. The witches of Angelini's Salem are different from your typical witch. These witches were crucibles once (not as powerful). They can control mechanics and people with willstones, if the person willingly lets the witch tough the person's willstone. But if you touch a person's willstone without their explicit permission, that's some serious pain coming your way. I LOVE how Angelini takes the time and effort and page space to detail little things, like the Woven or the willstones or the mindspeaking. Of course, all of these things are really big things, but at the foundation level, Angelini does a beautiful job of creating the magic and world from the ground up.
I really liked Lily. She's sooo stubborn, but also very kind and compassionate. It's so obvious that she's not Lillian. Lily is very forthcoming with her expressions, emotions, and thoughts. She doesn't want to deceive or lie, and she's also pretty selfless. It's hard not to like her. Everyone wants to use her or kill her, but she always seems to want to do what is best for everyone.
At first, it seems like Rowan totally hates her. And that makes sense, right? Because Rowan really does not like Lillian, that's for sure. Rowan is convinced that Lily is Lillian, just manipulating Rowan for her own causes. That's not true, and Tristan (THIS world's Tristan) sees this. Rowan is hard-headed and stubborn like Lily, but he acknowledges his mistakes.
I think I really, really like Rowan. He might actually be one of my favorite male protagonists of the year, so far. There is something noble and legitimately powerful about him. He's not necessarily a good guy - for a good portion of the book, he acts like he wants to kill Lily - but he's not a forced typical "bad boy". I really felt for him, as the book went on. It was painfully obvious to me that he loved Lillian, and fell in love with Lily, and he knew how much it would break him if Lily stepped on his heart like Lillian did.
So... that being said, I really liked Rowan. And Lily. And Rowan and Lily together. The romance is really, really breathtaking in this book. I absolutely loved reading the scenes between Rowan and Lily. If it was just the two of them, or them surrounded by others, or with Caleb and Tristan, it didn't matter. Every scene seemed to make my heart flutter a little, for Rowan and Lily. They're such a dynamic and passionate and beautiful couple. I could re-read this book just to read the scenes with them together, over and over. Even the ones when Rowan didn't believe Lily wasn't Lillian - even then, I felt the chemistry. Gahhh!
This book is written in third person. Now, I know that many people do not like third person narratives. I don't understand why not, because third person allows you to see things from an infinite amount of perspectives, if the author chose to do that. In this book, we get third-person perspectives from Lily, Juliet, and Gideon. I won't say who Gideon is, but Juliet is Lily/Lillian's sister. The book isn't necessarily divided between the three of them, but we see each of these three's perspective on things from time and again. This is good, because we get to see things from Lily, the female protagonist, from Juliet, a crucial supporting character, and from Gideon, a villain of a sort. We get to know inside the head of all three of these people, without each narrative being in the first person. I like this! And Angelini does an excellent job with the third-person narratives, in my opinion.
At first, Lily is being dragged around by Rowan and company (Tristan and Caleb), as a prisoner. But then it becomes obvious that Lily must be introduced to magic, and trained. Soon, Lily has willstones of her own, and she claims some people. Lily uses her power to help others, like cleansing water or burning out fevers. But then she must use it against Lillian. A lot of this book was spent with Lily developing her magical abilities. The climax isn't Lillian against Lily, but it's an intense climax. The ending is... well, a very Angelini ending, even for a first book in a new series. Basically, I need book two now!
What I Did Not Like:
Just two things bothered me slightly. For one, we never really got a good explanation about Lily's allergies. Why is she allergic to like, everything, in her world. She's still not exactly healthy in the other Salem. And how do Lily's allergies make her powerful, in the other Salem? I didn't really understand that as well. Maybe I missed something?
And I mentioned the climax - it wasn't a showdown, of Lillian versus Lily. Somehow, I kind of expected that it wouldn't be, but the book and characters keep building up this fight between Lily and Lillian. I expected Lily to at least confront Lillian directly in this book. I expected to know a little bit more about what Lillian is doing and why. This book is written in third person, so that was a possible thing to happen. Why not?!
Would I Recommend It:
I would definitely recommend this book, especially to paranormal readers. Witches aren't really my thing, but Angelini's take on witches is awesome! And if you like a really good romance, this book is for you! And if you like Angelini's books in general, then you won't be disappointed. Lots of good reasons to read this book! The pretty cover is my last good reason... but it's a good one! A fitting cover, it matches well with the story!
4 stars. I really, really enjoyed this book, which is awesome! I'm sooo excited to read the second book - where is it?! I need it!
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