Published by Feiwel and Friends on September 2nd, 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
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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.
I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I absolutely LOVED this book. Trial by Fire was such a pleasant surprise, and though it took me days to read it due to life responsibilities, I never wanted to put it down. It was seriously hard to go to sleep at the end of the night!
I have to be honest, I expected to strongly dislike this book. I have never read one of this author’s books, but I know plenty of bloggers that I usually agree with that hated her debut novel, mostly due to bad writing. I saw some of the quotes from that book and I was not impressed. All I know is that I loved THIS book, and expectations can be a funny thing, but when your personal expectations are blown away, it can be a really amazing thing to have happen.
Trial by Fire is full of all sorts of things–it’s a hodge podge of science fiction and fantasy, and an absolutely brilliant magic system. There is time travel, witches, and a world ruled by women, some of which are evil, but there are always shades of gray. That’s the thing I kinda loved about this story. Though the antagonist was clear, I always understood her motivations, and I loved being conflicted. I enjoy books that make me second guess what I know and believe.
I also just really, REALLY loved the plot and world-building. The crucibles, the willstones, the firewalking, the Woven… And though I was never in love with the characters, I certainly didn’t dislike them, and sometimes plot points really can make a story. The forest was spooky, the stakes were high, and the pacing was intense.
But though this book was almost perfect for me, there were a couple of little things that niggled at me, one which I already touched on a bit. The characters were just kind of meh for me. There was nothing WRONG with them, but they didn’t speak to me. And the romance was pretty rocky there for a while. There are two love interests–one in the past and one in the present, and both are dickholes. One is a cheating cheater, and the other is just mean and disrespectful. Now Rowan has his reasons for being the way he is, but I don’t like the way he went about it.
All in all though, this was one of my favorite reads of the year. It is right up there with Kiss of Deception. I could analyze deeper, nitpick probably, but to be honest, I want to put the fun back in my reading. And this book was some serious fun. Also, since I seriously suck at fangirling and writing useful positive reviews, I am just going to leave it at this. This book has my seal of approval.