A Fantastical read with magic, mayhem, romance, rebellion, love and hatred
Series: The Worlwalker Trilogy
Author: Josephini Angelini
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 28th August, 2014
Trial by Fire is the first book in this series by Josephine Angelini, author of the bestselling Starcrossed series. Admittedly, I have only read the first book Starcrossed from her first series nut I have enjoyed her writing before. When I picked up Trial by Fire, it had already received many rave reviews from bloggers and friends and I was keen to dig into this new world. I'm pleased to say she doesn't disappoint.
Trial by Fire starts off with Lily, our protagonist being a sickly teenager who gets ill from the smallest thing in her vicinity. She suffers from severe allergic reactions and hence is on medication all the time. After a heartbreaking incident with her childhood friend Tristan, whom she is in love with, she somehow transports to another dimension. Here is the the mirror reflection of Lillian, the powerful witch who rules over present day Salem. soon in her quest to find a way back to her own world, Lily is embroiled in a war against herself and caught up between good and evil where the lines between them are blurred.
With a premise like this, it is hard to resist this book. I loved Lily. Even if she was physically weak in her own world, she was more than made up for it with her personality. She was head strong, determined, funny and sensible. It is difficult not to like her. At first, all she wants to do is go back to her own dimension, but as she learns more and more about the New Salem, her connection with it increases. She is immensely powerful in this new world and I enjoyed how she was discovering her new abilities.
The world building is painstakingly done and detailed. I love the concept of the 13 cities and the forest in between. Like Lily, I also could not help but compare the various bits of New Salem to Lily's own World. I particularly loved how the willstones worked and not unlike Lily, I'm curious as to what other abilities they may manifest. The relationships between the characters were well crafted and slowly built with solid character building around each one. Watching Lily and Tristan from the new world and their dynamics were interesting making me wonder, where is Rowan in Lily's own world? Speaking of Rowan, he is the love interest in the story. He and Lillian used to be in love but when she breaks his heart, he is bitter and angry and takes it out on Lily. I loved how their relationship was slowly unravelled. At first he is hostile and them slowly he melts away to show his real awesome self. Tension abounds between these two which I happily licked away making me wish for more. No insta-love in sight and their attraction is a slow burn. Delicious.
so why the 4 stars you ask? Well, I adored this book at the start. I was ticking all the boxes but after half way through, it felt slightly less. Some scenes were glossed over and I'm not sure I liked how Lily and Rowan resolved their issues. I can't quite put my finger on it but it felt like the author ran out of steam towards the middle portion. Moreover the underlying issue of 'save the environment' message that was subtle at first but annoyed me towards the end. How Lillian is convinced that science and technology will doom her world and the Lalidah. I'm all about saving the environment but reading a whole series with that message may be too much for me.
Regardless of my misgivings, Trail by Fire was a fantastical read, with magic, mayhem, romance, rebellion, love and hatred where shady characters abound. The book ends with a sort of cliff hanger which is more of a 'I cannot what for the next book.' and less of ' Why the heck it it stop here?'. It is definitely deserving of all the accolades that it's been getting from early reviewers and it's a must read for any fantasy YA reader. Unmissable.
Arc received from Macmillan Children's Books via NetGalley.