Monday 25 August 2014

Review: Trial by Fire - Josephine Angelini

New UK Cover
I'm a witch, and witches burn.

Lily Proctor is allergic to virtually everything, and growing up in Salem she's never been able to do the things her friends take for granted . . . which is why she's 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 when she wishes she could just disappear - she does.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - a terrifying new world where she is overwhelmed by new desires and new experiences, and her weakness is replaced with extraordinary power. She soon discovers that this world is ruled by dark and powerful witches, and that the strongest and cruellest of all is Lilian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. Thrown into a war she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

How can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Worldwalker Trilogy:
Trial by Fire
Rowan (Novella)
Traitor's Pyre (2016)

Visit Josephine Angelini's website for more information

I have to confess that I wasn't really too sure what to expect from Trial by Fire, I hadn't heard a great deal about it before I started reading but the shiny foil cover caught my eye and when I realised it was about witches and alternate realities I couldn't resist. I'm so glad I took a chance because this turned out to be one of my favourite YA reads of the year. There is just so much to love about this book and once I'd started reading I didn't want to stop.

Lily is such a fantastic main character. She isn't one of the popular crowd at school, in fact her allergies to pretty much everything have made her a bit of an outcast but no matter how tough things are she just gets on with it. She knows that it won't be long before her increasing allergies leave her housebound and she's determined to make the most of attending school while she still can. I loved her automatically for having so much courage but what tipped me over the edge into complete girl crush mode was the way she reacted when a potential love interest broke her heart. Lily isn't a simpering fool who will forgive a guy any asshat behaviour just because he is hot, no Lily is the kind of heroine who knows exactly how she deserves to be treated and who would rather be alone than let a boy walk all over her. Do you know how rare a heroine like that is in YA these days? It's so hard to find positive female role models and I could have jumped for job at Lily's response to the boy in question!

All that was before we'd made it beyond the first couple of chapters and I could already tell I was going to love this book. Now take this fabulous heroine and drop her unexpectedly into an alternate reality, one where magic is real and where witches rule. Lily suddenly has an explanation for her allergies and finds herself in a place where she isn't an outcast, in fact she is incredibly powerful. She is completely out of her depth and has no idea who she can trust so it's understandable that she quickly bonds with the people she recognises from her own reality but even then she doesn't blindly trust them or expect them to act the way they would in her world. Lily is sensible, she thinks things through and trusts her instincts rather than go along with what other people want her to do, even in an alternate universe Lily is my kind of heroine!

There are two other characters who I really want to talk about and the first is Lillian, Lily's alternate self, who happens to be the witch in charge of the whole of Salem and all of the other covens around the new world. Lillian is a fascinating character, she does some horrific things and you can't help but hate her for them but the more you learn about her the more you start to wonder about her motives. I'm not saying her actions are justifiable but she does have reasons and I think we've only started to uncover them. There is so much more to Lillian than a cardboard cut-out villain and the choices she makes raise some really interesting questions. Can you ever justify doing terrible things? Is it worth losing the life of a few people if you can potentially save thousands? What if the cost is more than a few - how much life are you willing to sacrifice?

The other character who deserves an honourable mention and a round of applause is love interest Rowan. He really is the kind of guy that we all wish we could meet, he's strong, protective, caring, intelligent and brave but best of all he can admit when he's made a mistake and he can actually apologise for it! Imagine that - a guy who will say sorry! It's a rare and beautiful thing indeed, especially in YA. There is no alpha asshat behaviour here, yes he's wary of Lily in the beginning but considering he thinks she is is mortal enemy Lillian (because they do look identical after all!) that was completely understandable. To be fair, considering the things that Lillian has done to him I actually thought he reacted quite reasonably to Lily's arrival. I absolutely loved seeing their relationship develop over time, there is no insta-love here and the couple spend time getting to know each other and learning to trust. Lily isn't afraid to call Rowan out when he is unreasonable and he is equally willing to push her when she needs it which makes them very well matched.

I don't want to say too much about the alternate world that Lily ends up in because I think it is somewhere that you should have fun exploring for yourself by reading the book. What I will say is that I loved the way magic works, the way it is based on scientific principles and has been so cleverly set up that it comes across as completely believable. I don't have much difficulty thinking there is an alternate universe out there somewhere where magic is real! I think it's quite obvious that I loved this book, I could spend hours writing this review trying to give you more reasons to read it but to be honest if I haven't already sold it to you then probably nothing else I could say will either. If you're only going to take one young adult recommendation from me this year then make it Trial by Fire, this book is such a refreshing change, it breaks so many of the current YA trends and is well worth the money it costs.

Source: Received from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Original UK Cover
Old Paperback / New Paperback / Kindle:


  1. Hi there. Great review. I have also reviewed Trial by Fire and the sequel Firewalker. If you're interested I'm giving away an ARC copy of Firewalker. Check out the details here:

    1. Thanks Brittany, I can't wait to read Firewalker! :o)



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