Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Also in this series: Firewalker
Published by Macmillan on 9/2/14
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: BEA, NetGalley
My content rating: Mature YA (References to sex, though none is shown, Some violence)
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.
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.
I was so excited to read Trial by Fire that I somehow managed to snag a copy from both BEA and NetGalley. Um, oops. I guess you can tell that I really wanted to read it. And, let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Honestly, I think this is the best book I’ve read in a long while – I finished it and almost wanted to pick it right back up again and start over!
The book follows Lily, who is allergic to just about everything and suffers from debilitating allergic reactions. After a horrifically embarrassing night involving her best friend (and crush), Lily wants nothing more than to escape – but when escape is offered to her, she finds herself in a strange alternate universe where magic reigns and she (or an alternate version of her) is a witch and the ultimate villain. Lily wants nothing more than to get back home, but finds herself falling for Rowan, her alter ego’s ex. Things get more than complicated because everyone wants something from Lily, and she discovers that simply going home may not be an option.
What I LOVED:
- Alternate realities. I LOVE books that involve alternate realities!!! Just the mere thought of the butterfly effect and how parallel worlds would work makes me giddy – there’s just something so intriguing about the idea of another world out there just like ours – almost. This book was no exception! Angelini created an amazing parallel world filled with witchcraft, strange hybrid creatures and so much more!
- Witchcraft. It was so much fun that this book took place in Salem, using descendants of the original Salem families. I loved that Lily’s last name was Proctor because all I could think of was John Proctor from The Crucible (a play that I performed in many years ago). There were so many little tie-ins with the things that we already associate with the Salem witch trials, and I loved them! In fact, Lily is told that she is a Crucible (she can change energy or heat into magic). I don’t want to give away more details, but there were so many of them – lots of little references to the witch trials and how a world with actual witches became so different from our world after the Salem trials. I also loved how magic was used for everything that we use science for in our world – and that it was in fact better than science in a lot of ways – but that this created a society where witches had too much power. Argh! Again, I don’t want to say too much, but I just loved it all!
- Unclear villains. From the very beginning of the book (or almost so), we are told that the “villain” in the book (Lillian, Lily’s alter ego) is simply doing everything she can to save her world. We don’t know exactly why or what she’s protecting her world from, but we know that she truly seems to believe that she is only doing what she has to do. We are also told upfront that she loves Rowan and is living with the pain of losing him (again, we don’t know why). As the book goes on, we learn more and more about Lillian and see that some of the things she has done are truly horrible – but you can never quite completely blame her, or even be sure if, in some small way, she might not be right. I love this type of story – where the line between right and wrong is blurred to the point where you almost can’t see it. Where you can sympathize and even empathize with the villains almost as much as the heroes. It’s the type of book that makes you think – makes you wonder what you might do differently in Lillian’s place – or in Lily’s place. Whose side would you be on? I certainly think I would have chosen a different path than Lillian, but her urge to protect her world is real – and perhaps very necessary.
- Friends. I was ready to be sort of sad and disappointed about Tristan and to hate him. Just from the synopsis, I knew that something bad was going to happen with him and that he was going to hurt Lily in some monumental way, and that made me sad because he was such a good friend to her up until that point. When Lily meets Tristan’s alter ego, she has trouble separating him from the Tristan who hurt her – a theme throughout the book. But she also learns a bit more about him and almost comes to understand her Tristan a bit more – I will be interested to see what becomes of Lily and the Tristan’s friendship in future books. Likewise, there were plenty of other great secondary characters in Lillian’s world that Lily befriends (slowly). I loved watching those friendships bloom and watching Lily’s loyalties slowly change.
- Rowan. Oh, Rowan. Intense, powerful, loyal, swoonworthy, and sometimes dangerous. This romance was a tough one. In some ways, it was a bit hard to get behind Lily and Rowan’s romance, knowing that he had been so in love with Lillian. The very last thing that Rowan wanted was to fall for Lily, that was for sure – not after Lillian tore out his heart. But the connection between Lily and Rowan was palpable and neither of them could ignore it. And as a reader, neither could I. It didn’t take long for me to ache for Lily in the pain and confusion of her strange relationship with this complicated boy. And to hope desperately that they would find their way to each other.
- The ending. I LOVED the way that this book ended! The possibilities for the next book are practically endless and I can’t wait to see where Angelini goes with it all!
- Finer points of alternate realities. There were a few times when the whole alternate reality thing caused me to shudder a little and I had to suspend disbelief. For instance, at one point it’s pointed out that the people in the alternate universe have shorter lifespans than in Lily’s world (just because things are so much more dangerous) – so how would all of the people in Lily’s world (or almost all) have alter egos in the alternate reality? The timelines should have been totally shifted. Not to mention the thought that if every tiny decision created an alternate reality, there should be far more realities without Lily even in them than there would be with (the book implies that the same people exist in almost all of the millions of possible realities). These things make my head hurt if I think about them too much. This is pretty much always the case with this type of story, though, so I chose to just move on and not dwell on it too much. I certainly didn’t let it ruin my enthusiasm for the book!
So, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I strongly recommend this book. Go get it. Now. Read it. And then wait breathlessly with me for book two. 5/5 stars.
***Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
JOSEPHINE ANGELINI is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband and three shelter cats. Her debut series, Starcrossed, Dreamless, and Goddess, (Harper Teen) are all international bestsellers and have garnered the praise of various major publications, including the LA Times, and have twice won the Reader’s Choice Awards in Germany. Her next series, Trial by Fire, Book One of the WorldWalker Trilogy (Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan) released in the US on September 2nd.