Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini combines magic with science, fantasy with sci-fi, and parallel worlds with love shapes of all kinds ;-). I found Trial by Fire to be better than I had expected with lots of little details that made me squee, while it also stumbled at other times. The magic of Trial by Fire has a strong basis in chemistry and Trial by Fire brought up some actually quite thought-provoking ideas about the benefits and costs of scientific progress in our world where magic could rule in a parallel world.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Trial by Fire from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on Sept. 2nd, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Genre-bender, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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?
- Trial by Fire has a pretty awesome alternative world that plays off the idea of the witches of Salem actually having power and changing the course of history after their persecution. It was a lot of fun to have little details slipped in of how history could change if magic powered the world instead of science and I appreciated the richness these details added.
- While it makes my life slightly more difficult, I actually really love it when a book doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. Trial by Fire is certainly mostly a fantasy book, but there are some very obvious and delicious sci-fi elements such as the magic being based on ideas from chemistry and asking some pretty deep questions about our own society.
- I love a well-rounded villain and Trial by Fire definitely has that. While most of Trial by Fire is told from Lily’s perspective, we also get glimpses into her alternative self’s perspective and her alternative sister’s perspective. Lillian (Lily’s evil twin) is not just some power hungry evil queen. She started out with entirely good intentions and even some of her most cruel acts do have some logic behind them. More and more throughout Trial by Fire, I found myself seeing Lillian’s side of things and not being sure whose side I was really on anymore.
- I absolutely adored the number of little details that Angelini included in Trial by Fire that really reflected the research she did for this series. There is a moment where Lillian’s sister is horrified that a man was feeding bread mold to children with the plague and it took me a moment to realize that this was the discovery of penicillin in their world and how weird it would definitely seem at first ;-).
- There are some unrealistic elements in the first few chapters of Trial by Fire before Lily goes to the parallel world. She’s exceedingly sick and the primary caretaker of her schizophrenic mother. I know, I know, that makes no sense, but push through because once she gets to the parallel world the awesomeness starts.
- I found the romance awkwardly almost a love triangle/quadrangle with three guys being completely devoted to Lily and Lily being pretty sure she was interested in only one, but with hints of confusing feelings all around. Even ignoring the extra guys in Trial by Fire, Lily’s main romantic interest just felt rather forced and awkward/unhealthy at the same time and it annoyed me.
- There isn’t any reference to the pre-witch trials history in the parallel world, so I’m not sure if the worlds were the same until that moment or if there was magic in the parallel world previous to the Salem Witch Trials too. I really hope that this is covered in the next book since it was a bit of a glaring gap in Trial by Fire.
While Trial by Fire certainly had slip-ups, I found it generally a very enjoyable book with some quite creative combinations of sci-fi and fantasy elements. The ending of Trial by Fire annoyed me a bit, but I’m quite hopeful for the second book and definitely recommend Trial by Fire to fans of Angelini’s previous work or looking for fantasy with parallel worlds and some intriguing plot lines. I know that Angelini’s writing bothers some people, but I really didn’t notice this at all for myself, so hopefully you’ll just know whether or not you are one of those people ;-).
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.