Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

22087268Title: Trial by Fire

Author: Josephine Angelini

Format/Length: Paperback/384 pages

Publisher/Date Published: Macmillan Australia/28th August 2014

Category/Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal-Fantasy

Source: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review — thank you!

Description: 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?

3.5/5 stars –


Trial By Fire was surprisingly enjoyable. I  requested this and was thrilled when I was approved for it, though I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. The storyline sort of reminded me of Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington… except with witches. (Though really, the similarities end there.) Both stories contain wildly different words, both intriguing to read about in their own ways. What first drew me into the story was the premise — alternate worlds? Evil other self? Hell yeah, I’m in. There were parts of the story that just fell short of what I wanted it to be, and others that exceeded it.

Out of all the witch books I’ve read this year, this one has been the best.

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I really liked the writing.

Not too descriptive, not too much dialogue. This was the sort of book that I could have finished in the one sitting if only I’d had the time. Enough conflict to keep me interested, and I loved that this novel didn’t draw on the typical witches clichés. It was fresh and fun and different from a lot of YA paranormal out there. And oh, that ending. Slightly cliffhanger-ish, yes, maybe, but good all the same. It sets up the next novel, which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

Me? I like complex, interesting villains. Lillian was not this.

This was one of my major issues that I found I had with the story. And perhaps this is more a personal preference rather than a technical flaw in the story, but I like my villains to either be a) the loveable kind (think Crowley from Supernatural, or Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy), or b) people who are, essentially, “villains” in the traditional sense of the world, but they’re not portrayed as being completely evil; they have some redeeming factors (think Jaime Lannister). Lillian, for me, didn’t fall into either of these categories. I really wish that her character had been further explored — she was absent most of the novel, with only the occasional point of view and role.

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Speaking of point of view changes . . .

I loved them! Pretty much, I’ll enjoy any novel that has more than one point of view. That way the reader can explore places/characters from a view other than the protagonist. The main part of the story was in Lily’s point of view, which was also good, though it was refreshing to sometimes take a break from her view to someone else’s.

The worldbuilding was there, but I didn’t really get it.

The alternative world that Lily is thrown into was a strange mixture of medieval and modern — though at times I wished it had been more deeply explained. I’m not going to say that the worldbuilding lacked, because I thought that the author painted a vivid picture of the sort of world the protagonist was in, but there was something missing to it. Its history, maybe; I can’t pin-point exactly what it is about the world that bothered me, but there was certainty something about the worldbuilding that was… scarce compared to other novels I’ve read.

In conclusion, though? I enjoyed it! I am very interested to see where Trail of Tears will go.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

  1. I think the most interesting thing about this is the whole Salem parallel. Well, that’s just from reading the blurb, but it’s got a Crucible-ish vibe going on (I read The Crucible for English last year and really loved it). Plus, witches are cool. It’s interesting you mention the sort of villains you like – I really enjoy complex villains too, although I don’t mind ones that are completely evil – I mean…Voldemort :P

    Also I really have to read Between the Lives.

  2. I know what you mean about villains–I loved Warner! (Okay, I still do, but that’s besides the point.) I’ve seen a lot of ‘meh’ reviews for this book, so although it’s not that the top of my TBR it’s definitely on there. I’ll probably end up picking this one up when it comes out since you liked it. Unlike you, though, I’m not too keen on POV changes, so I don’t know. I’ve heard that the romance is good though so that makes me want to read it even more! Great review (:

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