Friday, October 3, 2014

Title: Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Narrator(s): Emma Galvin
Series:  The Worldwalker Trilogy, book #1
Length: 12 hrs 23 mins
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher, purchased audio
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.

When I started seeing all of the mixed reviews for Trial by Fire, I almost passed on it, even though I'd requested a copy for review. Actually, I did kind of pass on it. April had it for review, as well, and she was still keen to read it, so I told her she should review it for the blog. She actually ended up DNFing it, not because it was bad but because she just didn't have the concentration for it right now. I like a good, complex world, so obviously my curiosity was piqued once again at that.

And now that I think about it, I should have remembered that there were a lot of mixed reviews for the author's mythology-based series, while I was over here writing up my fangirl review for it. I really like Angelini's writing style, the way she weaves a story, giving some answers while leaving you with even more questions. And, yes, the complexity of the world(s) in this story is an added bonus. The magical aspect was impressive, and I love a good multiverse story, though that element of the story wasn't explored all that much in this novel.

After the events that transpire in this installment, though, I expect the multiple universes to be a much bigger focus in future books, so I'm not worried in that respect. What we did see in this book was a sickly Lily being swept from her own world -- our present-day world -- to one where witchcraft and magic survived the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, it's a world in which the witches are trying to vanquish true science and medicine in favor of their own powerful magic. And Lily has been pulled from her world in hopes that she can save this one.

In this New Salem, Lily meets her doppleganger Lillian, the most powerful witch of her world. Like Lily was in her world, this Lillian is very ill, and although she is labeled as the villain from the start, I sensed there was some underlying motivation to her actions that might be less sinister than the residents of her city would have Lily believe. That doesn't mean I trusted her or thought what she was doing was right, but I think there's more to her story, and I'm intrigued to find out what it is.

I was also very interested in the magical system in New Salem. Harnessing a witch's power in a stone is not a new concept, but the way in which it is wielded, how susceptible it is to others and how other mages can be put under it's control...those are new notions to me. And I loved the way in which the magical elements were explored as Lily learns how to manifest her own dormant powers. Seeing others grow to trust her and believe in her and then allow her to claim them so that they might all benefit from her powers made this book downright unputdownable.

The slow-burning romance helped to keep me listening, too. From what I'd heard about the book prior to picking it up, and from what I gathered from that synopsis, I thought a love triangle was imminent. I'm not ruling out the possibility in the future because of REASONS, but for now, I consider it very unlikely. Lily's short-lived romance with Tristan in her world is all but over when she's whisked away to New Salem. And when she meets Rowan -- sigh, will there ever be a character with this name that I don't instantly swoon over? -- they don't exactly hit it off, her sharing the face of the woman he despises most, but that changes over time. There's a Tristan in this world, too, but he's similar in a lot of ways to the one Lily left behind, and nothing ever really develops there. You'd think that this would probably be the most awkward aspect of the romance, but no. Just as Lily had a thing with the Tristan of her world, Rowan had more than a thing with the Lily (Lillian) of his world. Yeah. But it never devolves into an embarrassing, uncomfortable situation for them because it's Lily and Rowan all the way. You can see it. They can see it. But they're going to deny it for as long as they can hold out. It was worth the wait, though.

This book was totally worth me creating extra chores and making excuses so that I could keep listening, too. I finished it in a day, even though Emma Galvin is one of my least favorite narrators. I used to really enjoy her narration. But that was before I listened to her narrate the first two books in the Arcana Chronicles series by Kresley Cole. That series is compulsively readable, highly addictive, and I hate it, but I'll probably still end up reading the third book when it releases because I can't help myself. Anyway, I don't know if it was a combination of the terrible accents Galvin used for those books plus the annoying characters in them that made me start disliking her narration style and voice, but I know it started with those books. And yet, I didn't find her narration of this book so terrible. I did hear some of the things that bother me about her narration style, like the fact that it sounds like she's speaking with a giant piece of candy or something attached to the inside of her cheek, but it was less noticeable to me than usual. I was so compelled by the story and characters in Trial by Fire that I was able to completely overlook those facets that might otherwise annoy me to the point of giving up on a book. I wish I'd had the time to sit down and read this novel myself, but I would still recommend this audiobook.

Trial by Fire really surprised me, even though is shouldn't have. And it ended on the perfect note...right on the precipice of something BIG but not something killer that's going to leave you aching to know what happens next. I mean, yeah, you're going to wonder because the story is that intriguing, and you're going to be excited to see where the characters go from here, especially because of the point at which the story ends. But it's not a stressful ending, nor a devastating one. It's just right. :) This whole novel was just right -- just enough action, just enough magic, just enough romance -- to entice you to keep coming back to it. Or never put it down, as the case may's a compelling read, to be sure.

GIF it to me straight:
Yay, witches! Everybody dance now!

Josephine AngeliniAbout the author:

Josephine Angelini is a Massachusetts native and the youngest of eight siblings. She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

Find Josephine:

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads


  1. I have the audiobook for this one but I keep forgetting about it. I need to add it to my audio library. I love witch books and Emma Galvin.

    1. I love witch books, too, but I'm not always a fan of this narrator. After this book, though, I'm inclined to give books narrated by Emma Galvin a second glance again. :) I really, REALLY liked this one.

  2. I wish I could have loved this one too :-( I had such high hopes. I think it was the writing style that ultimately didn't work for me. No clue if an audio would have worked better. Happy you took a chance and loved it!! Most everyone I know has liked it.

  3. Yay -- so happy you loved this one. I can see why April might have DNF'd. I thought -- and said in my review -- that the beginning felt a bit like a tired paranormal set-up, but then it developed into something really interesting.
    And I don't listen to a ton of audiobooks, but I liked Emma Galvin reading The Eternal Ones. As for anything else, I don't know...
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  4. I'm so glad you loved this one. I think if I had gone with the Audio instead of trying the arc, I would have been able to finish. I just... my brain. It's so overworked right now!

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I have it for review, but haven't read it yet. I was kind of turned off my some of the star ratings I was seeing, but your review definitely made me interested again. I always love the idea of witches. Rowan really is such a good name. Great review!


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