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Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini ARC {4 Stars}

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 ARC {4 Stars}

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?

4 Stars


  • 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 ;-).

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Everyone seems to be loving it, and even though there are a few issues (which I’ll have to keep in mind when I read it- it goes a long way when you’re forewarned, right? Otherwise I’d probably give up, haha.) But it definitely sounds more plus than negatives, and the whole alternate Salem and an evil twin…too good to pass up. ;) Though, the romance sounds like it’s going to annoy me most, booo. :(
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (#60) Harper Collins Edition: Part Two & RecapMy Profile

    • Hehe forewarned is prepared or something ;-). I get annoyed with YA romances usually and found myself only mildly annoyed, so there is hope!

  2. Glad you liked this one Anya :) I am seriously anticipating this! I loved her other series, and have high hopes for this. I like the idea of parallel worlds.,, it can be great if well written. I can’t wait to read this :) great review
    Diamond recently posted…Book Review: The Dark Shore (The Atlanteans #2) by Kevin EmersonMy Profile

  3. Adelynne Chang says:

    Yay! This looks really good- I guess I’ll have to read it now. :D

  4. I’m happy this one worked better for you than it did me. I went into it with high expectations so that could have been my major difficulty. Always better when you can go into with no hopes for what it’ll be. I agree that some of the world building was really well done. I’ll be eager to see what you think of the next book. Great review Anya!

    • Yeah, I was sorry to see that you didn’t like it! I definitely went in pretty blind and was in the mood for lighter and fun adventure so it was luck partially too ;-)

  5. This book somehow slipped my radar but I love what if situations and I am intrigued by idea of what would happen if witches in Salem had real power. I am adding it to my tbr.
    Dragana recently posted…Book Review: Black Rook by Kelly MeadeMy Profile

  6. I read the first book in Angelini’s other YA series (Starcrossed) and I was not a fan. But I’m a big believer in second chances for authors and EVERYONE has been giving Trial By Fire positive reviews so far! It seems like this series will be a big improvement on her last, if the amount of research she did is any indication. The mouldy bread/penicillin thing is genius! Plus witches. I just can’t resist witches.

    • Yeah I haven’t heard great things about that series and I have heard from others who didn’t like her writing there that it is similar, but I think the world and characters are probably better?

  7. I’m so mad at myself for not picking this up at Comic Con! It was just sitting there..oh well. I will definitely be reading it at some point. I love that detail about the bread mold so if it’s filled with those, I know I’ll enjoy it:-)

    • Just another excuse to buy a pretty hardcover ;-)

      Isn’t the bread mold awesome???? Lots of cool stuff about science versus magic, loved it!

  8. I’m certainly looking forward to reading Trial By Fire! I wasn’t too keen on it at first, but the moment I started learning more about what it was about, I found myself growing more and more curious. I’m glad to hear that overall you liked it, and would recommend it in spite of a few reservations!
    Alexa S. recently posted…Dangerous Boys – Abigail Haas (Review)My Profile

    • Awesome! Yeah, the world and magic is pretty darn awesome so I do hope you get a chance to read it, also there’ll be a giveaway and guest post on Wednesday ;-)


  1. […] hardcover of the redesigned first book…. There are spoilers for book one below, so check out my review of Trial by Fire instead if you haven’t read […]

  2. […] by Fire‘s Josephine Angelini on the blog to tell you all about her awesome parallel world. I really enjoyed reading Trial by Fire particularly because the parallel world had so many great little details and magic! Be sure to […]

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