Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC from Publisher
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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.
Trial by Fire was exactly as I had hoped it would be but more. That sounds a little contradictory, doesn't it? I suppose the best way to explain it is that I knew I would love this book but I had no idea how much. Angelini never fails to surprise me.
I remember when I first read Starcrossed and now, reading the first book in her new trilogy, I feel the same way as I felt then. I feel that excitement. I feel the thrill. I feel everything. Yet at the same time, it's obvious how much she has grown as a writer. Angelini knows what she is doing.
This book does not start off lightly and if you're like me and don't deal well with anticipation, the first chapter and a half is going to be HARD to read through but once you're past those hard bits, it gets a lot better, I promise.
Lily is a fantastic character. She is strong and her strength never fails to amaze me. When 'her' Tristan is a jerk to her, she doesn't just curl up into a ball. She's heartbroken but also realizes that what he did to her, the way he treated her, was wrong and she doesn't just let that go away, she tells him that he was a jerk. That's just one showcase of the strength she possesses. She has to adapt to a whole new world yet she does it realistically. Even though she is quick to understand the mechanics of the new world, she continues to hold the ideologies of her own. She isn't just going to change who she is to adapt to this new world, instead she tries to understand these differences and the reasons behind them. That's what makes her such a likeable character.
The secondary characters are just as well developed. I want to start off by mentioning the brilliance that is Lillian. I have NO CLUE how Angelini does it. Lillian isn’t your typical villain and I have to say, I find it incredibly hard to hate her. Her actions are inexcusable yet Angelini still develops her character in a way where it’s possible for us as readers to empathize with her. Okay, so I know many won’t be enthusiastic about empathizing with a villain but just trust me. It’s important to the story. Juliet is a wonderful addition although to be honest, throughout the entirety of the book, I found myself missing Lily’s Juliet. That does speak volumes about Angelini’s character development skills, especially if you find yourself missing a character you knew for 1.5 chapters.
Let’s not forget Caleb and Tristan though. I think we get to know more about Tristan (the other version who is a lot nicer) more but I kind of connected to Caleb after a certain event. That said, they are both wonderfully developed as well and I cannot wait to see more of them in the sequels.
Speaking of, I still haven’t mentioned Rowan, the love interest. I am all about the romance and while I genuinely enjoyed the romance in this book, I also felt really uncomfortable at times. Knowing that Rowan had loved Lillian in the past and was hurt so badly by her made me uncomfortable. It makes me wonder if Rowan actually has genuine feelings for Lily as an individual or if he sees her as a nicer version of Lillian? Those kinds of questions kept on bothering me as I read the book so it made it harder to enjoy their romance, no matter how sweet it was.
What takes the cake is the world building and I am not the least bit surprised by that. If you’ve read Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy, you’ll know what I am talking about. If you have not, you should go get started on that. Moving back to the world building, I have always loved the idea of parallel universes and this book explores the idea in an interesting way. It’s not a brand new idea but at the same time, Angelini manages to make it original. Angelini does an original take on magic but she also creates an interesting power hierarchy. There isn’t much in-depth world building and we learn more about the differences between this world and our own than we do about the history of this new world, but I think we’ll find out a lot more in the sequels.
The plot was so well paced although that’s to be expected in this kind of book. The pages flew by and before I knew it, I only had 30 pages left in the book and had to take a quick break so I wouldn’t die of thirst.
The way this book ends has me dying to read the sequel and all I can say is that anyone looking for an interesting book featuring magic, you need to check this out.