Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

The Basics:
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Feiwel & Friends
Book One of the Worldwalker Trilogy
Romance, YA
Published September 2, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I liked the connections to Salem and witches in the blurb and I found the cover really haunting.


This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But 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 cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

In Josephine Angelini's Trial by Fire, what makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

My thoughts:

Wow. I... did not expect this.

Trial by Fire was a painful, uncomfortable, delightful, epic adventure.

About halfway through the book, I was so overwhelmed by my reaction to the story that I wanted to skip to the end for the reassurance that it was going... I don't even know. Somewhere happy, at the least? But I soldiered on, and I am so happy that I did.

Trial by Fire is an apt title - I found myself suffering alongside Lily as she was backed into corner after corner by strangers, friends, family, even her own body. She often had to make the best of having no other option, and I yearned for this young woman to find a way to fend for herself, to take control of her own life.

I found her reactions honest even when they were uncomfortable or ugly, and I admired her strength of will. I don't want to talk too much about the other characters in the book to avoid giving anything away but let me say that I was intrigued by their stories. I found Rowan, Tristan and Caleb endearing in their own ways. The different ways in which they reacted to and interacted with Lily was, along with Lily's personal journey, the foundation of the story, for me.

The weakest portions of the book (for me) were the sections that involved Gideon, one of the villains of the piece, mainly because I was less interested in his side of things. Perhaps if his motivation had been more evident early on? I don't know. I do think that these scenes provided important information about Lillian's side of the story, and about the overall state of things in this universe. They made the struggle that Lily was caught up in much clearer and that elevated the reader's emotional stake in her decisions. so ultimately, I didn't *dislike* these bits, I just didn't find them as compelling as what was happening with Lily.

The magic system in Trial by Fire is a fantastic device. The willstones and the web of connection and power around them is a great anchor. I love the connection to the historical Salem, the use of fire... Gah, it's all so good, and I don't want to give anything away by explaining it!

There's a heavy fantasy/science fiction element to this book - the combination of multiple universes and magic is a heady one. There are so many possibilities for future books, I can only keep my fingers crossed that the wait for sequels isn't a long one.

Bottom line:

If you like your YA with a dose of fantasy, read this one. I loved it. I'm not saying it's not flawed, but rather that I found it so entertaining and enthralling that my enjoyment of the story wasn't impacted by any negatives. Truly a fun read - strongly recommend.

5 stars
For fans of YA fantasy, witches, reluctant romance, magic alongside technology.

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