Trial By Fire
by Josephine Angelini
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Published by: Macmillan on September 2, 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Parallel Universes, Young Adult
Source: ARC from Publisher
t’s been a while since I’ve read a really good, exciting novel about witches and magical things. TRIAL BY FIRE by Josephine Angelini adequately filled my need for such things. Despite its few flaws, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the world that this incredibly talented author has created. Even better, she successfully managed to combine magic with one of my most favorite things: logic.
In many ways, Josephine Angelini’s tale about a multi-universe traversing teenager plays out like your typical magical YA novel. A young teen is unhappy with her life, everything is going wrong, specifically when it comes to the opposite sex. A wish-fulfillment scenario plays out in which the girl is whisked away to another world and she becomes something more than what she was before. Female empowerment ensues, girl finds new love… badda-bing-badda-boom. Instant story gold, right?
…BUT (major but) TRIAL BY FIRE is in many ways nothing like your typical YA fare, as well. The main character, Lily, has problems unlike any you’ve read about before. She really is the “odd ball out” in our world. The reasons behind this are discovered only after she travels to the other world. Plus, there is terrible horror within these pages, taken to a gruesome level that few “typical” paranormal romance YA novels dare to go. Plus, there is SCIENCE. There are very thorough and logical explanations behind every spell that is cast. This story is about so much more than one young girl arriving to “save the day” and becoming better for her experiences, this is a story that spans our world, their world and many other worlds for that matter… It talks about personal choices and society roles as being crucial to the development and survival of the world (er, worlds). It’s a vast concept and a wide, wide multiverse that Josephine Angelini has tasked herself to explore… and in many ways she excels.
But then again, there are some ways in which she doesn’t quite pull it off…
Although I could visualize the world the author has created in her “new” Salem and I thoroughly enjoyed Lily’s adventures (camping out, battling monsters and epic road trips for the win!), what I didn’t comprehend was the supposed “antagonist’s” motives or their reasoning behind anything they did. The biggest, most glaring problem in TRIAL BY FIRE is that there’s a lot of talk about evil and impending doom and “oh no! save us all!“, but I never really understood why or how this would all occur.
Possible spoiler: The character Lillian supposedly saw things in Lily’s world and others that convinced her that all science was evil. She was also convinced that science would bring about the end of her world… As a result she commits some fairly evil acts in order to (supposedly) keep this all from occurring. What would have allowed this to come together (as well as make her position more clear – is she good or is she evil?) would have been allowing the reader to see what she saw during those trips to other worlds. Alas, this never happened… at least not that I can recall. It may have been there between all the scientific explanations for magic, but I don’t know.
The other problem I had with TRIAL BY FIRE was that I grew tired of the back and forward emotions between Lily and her “guide” Rowan. Especially Rowan. Although hunky and made of all the things that people usually love in the main male lead, I never quite knew where he stood when it came to Lily. His emotions were almost as out of control as my six year old on a really bad day. Every time he appeared or woke up, I wondered if he’d be wearing a smile or a scowl on his face that day. Lily, while she was pretty solid when it came to her romantic intentions, constantly felt the need to over-analyze the emotions of those around her… especially Rowan. The back and forward was dizzying at times. I just wanted everyone to take a chill pill.
Thankfully, although a lot of men are mentioned in the book – beginning with Lily’s romantic involvement with her best friend, Tristan (which was… bizarre… to say the least), the “other” Tristan, Rowan and even a “bad guy” who wanted to claim Lily for his own – no love triangle exists within these pages. I repeat: No love triangle exists within TRIAL BY FIRE. (Hooray!!)
Though it may seem that I am being overly critical of TRIAL BY FIRE, I enjoyed the book immensely. The story itself is critical many topics, so it’s kind of hard not to do the same in my review. Fans of Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series will find her writing style has vastly improved with this first book in her newest series. With diverse characters and a world that is even more complex than her last, TRIAL BY FIRE is a promising start to an adventure like none that we have ever seen before.
- Witches! Science! Witches and science… Do you see the potential here, guys?!
- The idea that there is an “other” you in an infinite number of worlds… Mind. Blown. (And now I’m having visions of an “other” mother and I’m totally freaked out.)*
- The adventure is exciting. The world we see is both beautiful and frightening.
- So much logic behind the magic itself. An info whore like me can have a field day within these pages.
- Maybe there’s a bit too much going on that a few explanations get lost in the process. Especially since we get very, very few answers about the supposed antagonist’s true motives.
- The “current universe” events early in the book are a bit bizarre, especially those that involve Lily and her romantic relationship with her best friend, Tristan. I guess as a catalyst for her ending up in another world, it was appropriate. But still, that Tristan was one strange cookie.
- The character’s emotions made this reader dizzy. Just make up your dang minds and STICK with it, guys! Okay? Okay.
- MAJOR WARNING: The ending is an insane cliffhanger. As in, you’re in the middle of a major battle and BAM! it ends… (Book two is still soooo faaaar offfff!!!)
* If you get the reference you totally rock.