Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: Trial by Fire

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.   Quoted from Goodreads


If you're looking for an original, unique book, look no further.  Trial by fire doesn't sound all that different from a lot of other books out there, but the world building is so unique, especially when you start off with the whole Salem witch thing (which has been done a lot) and see exactly where you end up and all the well thought out changes and adaptions of fairly common historical practices. I loved it.

First, world building. Honestly, like I said before, I love how absolutely unique the world building is.  I mean, we have witches and alternate worlds, which have all been done before, but the way she combines everything together.  How Lily becomes a crucible and how that relates to magic and the mechanics that she uses, the willstones, the burnings, etc. It was combined together in such a perfectly creative way, that I absolutely loved what Josephine Angelini did with the mythology.

The characters are also pretty great.  Lily, herself has to grow a lot, but I love who she becomes by the end.  She starts off as someone who physically can't do a lot, and becomes a girl who is sure of herself with the power to really make a difference. Plus, Lily is surrounded by a lot of great side characters, from Rowan, the complicated boy you can't help but fall in love with, to her sister Juliet, who loves Lily in each and every world.  Each character has depth and personality, and it's fun to see the different people in the different worlds.

As for action, this book is full of it, from monster attacks to mistrust, kidnappings to secret meetings, it's all there.  It really is one of those books you can't put down because there's almost never a good place.  Even when the action does pause a bit, it's filled with magic and more world building. 

Really, my only complaint for the book is how easily Lily does everything.  I understand that she's powerful, and sometimes she has problems with the simple stuff, but she gets the big stuff a little too quickly for my taste.  We are told over and over again that she is being introduced to magic that most crucibles never achieve, and she masters it on her first try.  I get the book really isn't about her learning magic, it's more about facing off with her alternate self, Lillian, and fighting for what she believes, but I wish she would have failed a few more times instead of mastering what no one else can every time.  I'm not disparaging Lily's character---I thought she was developed beautifully---just how easily everything came to her.  I wanted a bit more struggle. 

Despite that one small problem, this book is amazing.  I adore the world building, the way we start with things like burning witches, and how it is morphed into this complete, amazing mythology.  I love the characters and the adventures Lily is thrust into.  For me, this book is a strong 4 stars.  It's fun, unique, and fascinating.  The ending is a bit abrupt, but we have too more books to go, and I can't wait.

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