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Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
Book Name: Trial By Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher(s): Feiwel & Friends (US) Macmillan Children's Books (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: September 2, 2014 (US) August 28, 2014 (UK)

After a fair debut from this author with her Starcrossed trilogy, this new beginning of another left a bit to be desired. What compelled me to pick it up was the blurb:

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.

An alternate universe where you are no longer weak but strong and extraordinary? Who has not imagined the possibilities of what they could do or be in parallel dimension? Horrifying creatures in a world ruled by powerful women? Bring it!

High school senior Lily is finally dating the boy of her dreams, her best friend since they were little, and is about to make her new status debut at her first party. Ever. Since she is severely allergic to just about everything, she of course has a reaction at the most inconvenient time as she catches her new boyfriend cheating on her in a most humiliating way at this party. Delirious after her allergy-induced seizure and wallowing in heartache, she lets herself be led away from her world by a voice in her head promising her a whole new world of possibilities where she rules! Then voila – she is in a parallel dimension where her doppelganger is the wicked witch of the west (literally) who brought Lily into this world because she herself is teetering on the brink of death.

The town of Salem, Massachusetts (oh, the irony), is in a world that juxtaposes the old with the new. Magic is the law of the land enforced by covens of witches ruling the thirteen cities that comprise this country. Here, she meets the two fellows that will become the other two sides of their love triangle. Oddly enough, one of them does not have a counterpart in her world, or perhaps she has yet to meet him. In either case, her chances of returning home are slim. Not that she wants to; she is the only other person besides her sister that looks after their insane mother.

Lily is weak and sickly in her own world and on the verge of having to live in a plastic bubble in fear of her poor health. She sees her world as cruel, cold, and foolish. She is a strict vegan, a vehement champion of animal rights, and anti-nuclear anything. (The book can get quite preachy at times.) She is very smart, able to describe thermodynamics at the molecular level to her new companions. But in spite of all her intelligence, being tugged back and forth by her conflicting emotions over the two boys has short-circuited her brain.

While supposedly hiding from those that are hunting her for her potentially staggering power, she insists on going out for a night on the town. After having dyed her hair on two separate occasions to throw off suspicion, she lets her companions dress her in a skimpy outfit that cries out “witch!” because…why are we in hiding again? Oh right, fear of being kidnapped, but whatever. Girls just want to have fun, right? Suffice it to say that things don’t go according to plan (big surprise), someone is fatally injured, and they are forced to go deeper into hiding.

The worldbuilding is all over the place here. There are no rules that need to be followed. Genetically modified monsters, witches, soul-linking talismans, parallel worlds plus or minus a few significant characters…but hey, who’s counting?

Are there any redeeming qualities, you may ask?

Well, even after finding a much improved version of her past boyfriend in this new world, Lily does not jump headlong into a second chance with him. She is wise enough to hold a part of herself back despite having loved him for so many years. Strong heroine? Yes, please.

There is also the promise of unheard of power that Lily supposedly is capable of. That would be interesting to see revealed. The ending gives us a taste of what this may look like and leaves us at the cusp of seemingly infinite possibilities. There is potential for a great story here. I just hope that the subsequent books will weave all the loose threads into a more worthwhile tapestry.


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