Please Note: I received a free copy of Trial by Fire from it’s publisher Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way, and all thoughts expressed are solely my own.
“If there were an infinite number of universes, did that mean that one of them had to be perfect? And if one of the was paradise, did that me that another one had to be hell?”
Trial by Fire (Worldwalker #1) by Josephine Angelini
Published November 10, 2015 by Pan Macmillan
↳ Originally Published August 28, 2014
Source: Pan Macmillan (publisher)
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.
Lily Proctor has suffered a lot in her short life. Not only has her mum gone insane, and her father abandoned the family, but she’s spent most of her childhood in and out of hospital due to the near never-ending list of life-threatening allergies that she suffers from, which only just seem to be getting worse as she gets older. And tbh, I don’t care.
Despite the dangers, Lily stupidly wants to attend her first (and probably only) high school party. She can barely even breathe clean air without breaking out in hives, but still she wants to go someplace that will be polluted with cigarette smoke and alcohol. And all this to just impress the boy she likes – her best friend and long-time crush, Tristan. The pair have only just become a thing, though their relationship has yet to progress any further than a couple of kisses and some hand holding.
It turns out that attending the party was a terrible idea (who’d have thunk it?). Not only is Lily’s drink spiked with alcohol, which causes a reaction that sets off a seizure, but she also discovers Tristan in the bathroom with another girl (what can i say? he’s a womaniser. she should’ve seen that one coming.) right before the fit. And all of this happens in front of half her grade. Unable to bear the hurt and humiliation of the events at the party, Lily wishes that she would just disappear, and that’s exactly what happens. She disappears.
Soon enough, Lily finds herself in another version of her home city of Salem. A version where magic and witches exist, and one that is ruled by another version of herself who goes by the name of Lillian. Although sickly and weak, Lillian is still a powerfrul witch, and she has outlawed both doctors and science, declaring them to be evil, and magic to be the purest craft.
The Outlanders are a band of natives who live in the lands outside of the thirteen cities, and they rely on science because they cannot afford the magic of the witches to treat their ill and injured. Those who remain true to science have escaped the city and flocked to the Outlanders for protection. But the refugees aren’t guaranteed safety forever, because not only are they in danger of Lillian and her army of loyalists, but lurking in the woods that the Outlanders call home, are the dangerous and genetically spliced creatures known as the Woven. And Lily finds herself caught in the middle of it all.
My main issue with this book is that Lily was such a ‘meh’ character. I couldn’t connect with her, I didn’t care for her nor for her problems, especially not when she constantly and willingly threw herself into danger (the party is a prime example). She never seems to think anything through rationally, and it really bugs me because her actions are always putting herself and those around her in danger.
And not to mention that she’s a special snowflake. And I don’t mean that in a good way. It seems that every world happens to revolve around her. In her own world, she decides that she can’t take it any more because her crush doesn’t seem to like her as much as she thought he did (oh, cry me a damn river). In this world, Lily has the power of the witches, yet everything that would take a skilled witch years of training to accomplish, she manages to succeed at on her first attempt with no training whatsoever. And because she’s such a powerful witch, everyone wants to get their hands on her. I just found this to be so anticlimactic.
The side characters were more interesting than the MC. That being said though, they weren’t altogether that interesting. Well, except for Rowan. Rowan used to be Lillian’s lover, and her mechanic – one who understands the inner workings of a witch’s body, and determines their requirements at a simple touch. But Lillian did something so unforgivable to Rowan, that he swore to fight against her. So it’s totally understandable that he’s a bit of an douche towards Lily, because he’s obviously very conflicted. He only sees her for the evil that Lillian has done, yet other than by appearance, the two are completely unlike one another. Rowan is too precious for this world, and I wish him rainbows and sunshine and puppies by the truckload.
The world-building left me wanting more. The whole idea behind the workings of the world is really interesting, but we’re never offered more than a glimpse at the how’s and why’s. I mean the story dragged on so much at times with things that I thought were unimportant. You could probably take out 100 pages or so and still not miss a single part of the plot. So why not take out the unneccasary stuff, and use that space to better build on the world that was created. There are so many interesting things going on there!
The magic system was really cool, though. Not everyone in this world possesses magic of their own, but by using these special stones called willstones, everyone can do simple tasks such as locking/unlocking and opening/closing doors and chests at – you guessed it – will. These stones are essentially another limb, but I think of them more as the human soul. Touching another person’s willstone can cause such great agony or pleasure, depending on intent.
The witches on the other hand rely on heat for their power. They can take the energy from a fire and turn it into force, and then pour this force into one of their Claimed, giving those humans strength and speed beyond which was previously possible. The witches even process certain chemicals in foods differently to the humans, and this can greatly affect their strength.
There’s also a shaman who is Lily’s only hope of ever returning home, and who can disembody his spirit in order to travel between the many different worlds that exist beyond his own, and that’s just so freaking awesome.
Although my love for stories with alternate dimensions burns as bright as a thousand suns, I’m a bit torn about this book, and I don’t quite know where I stand at the end of it all. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but there wasn’t anything particularly spectacular or noteworthy about it, nor was it a very memorable read, which I guess says a lot. This book had so much potential, but I felt that it was poorly executed with an uninspiring main character.
In saying that though, I do feel that this series holds great promise, and I can only hope that it’ll get better as the story continues. Here’s hoping!
Looking for a great read about dimension travel? Try Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You!
Have any of you guys tried giving this one a read? Were you a bit let down much like myself, or were you completely and utterly blown away? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,