Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTrial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on September 2, 2014
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is 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 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 cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

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

PLEASE NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. Because I need to rant and I can’t rant without spoilers. You’ve been warned.
…Seriously.. Stop RIGHT HERE if you don’t want to be spoiled!

I think I read this out of some twisted sense of loyalty to Josephine Angelini because I loved her debut trilogy, Starcrossed, and because I LOVE the Salem Witch Trials. But this was PAINFUL to get through. Angelini was so focused on world-building that the plot was lost along the way. The characters were impossible to connect with. And the parts of the story pertaining to the willstones (I’ll explain later on in the review) were so over-sexualized, it was actually uncomfortable (and I’m no prude, but I’m telling you, it was uncomfortable). And the racism (Native American’s being called savages, etc) was disgusting.

I don’t even know where to start, to be honest, so I guess with the few things I did like? I actually liked the world-building in the beginning. I didn’t realize this was a multiple universes/parallel universes kind of thing – what even do you call that? What’s the difference? – and I’m not sure how I feel about it; however, the world Lily was pulled into was intriguing. At first.

I really liked Lillian in the beginning. We had barely even MET her and I knew liked her more than Lily, at least. She’s the villain who has your sympathy. I found myself drawn to her and her story and wanting to know more. I also liked her world better than Lily’s (as I mentioned above). And I liked Juliet – one of the few characters I really, truly liked. There were some moments that made me chuckle and smirk (dialogue between characters, in particular), but they were few and far between. The one thing I loved beyond a doubt was Angelini’s writing – her writing is what dragged me into Starcrossed and what had me dying to dig into Trial By Fire. I will say that the ending held promise for book two.

Now the things I didn’t like. Except for the few moments when I liked Lillian and Juliet, I really didn’t like these characters. They were flat and one dimensional and didn’t grow a lot over the course of the book. The men in this book, in particular, were basically all jerks and worse names that I’ll refrain from using. In particular, I couldn’t stand Lily’s Tristan and I couldn’t stand Rowan, Gideon or Carrick. Caleb wasn’t as bad as the others, but we got to know him the least.

I couldn’t stand the stuff with the willstones. The willstones were like a combination of the source of a person’s power and an amplifier of their power. And everything to do with the willstone was sexualized in the weirdest, most awkward and uncomfortable way. When a witch claims a willstones, the process is compared to/described as being birthed. And touching someone’s willstone can either be painful to them or positively orgasmic – seriously, that word wasn’t used but it was implied. And all the stuff with the mechanics being claimed by witches made them seem like objects, not people. Being claimed by a witch was akin to having sex.

Like, these are actual quotes:

“After dinner, Lily claimed Tristan.” = And… No one thought that sounded problematic?

“Fondle a witches willstones…” = … Umm… I…

“So it’s like sex?” = Like, Lily ACTUALLY straight-up asks this

“Well, I’ve never done this with a girl.” = I’m not kidding, this is said in relation to a claiming.

Also, Lily had to get naked in front of Rowan and Tristan for a certain spell. Umm.. Why? Why did she have to be naked??

A potential or implied date rape also happened. WHY?!?!? THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK I’VE READ IN A ROW WITH THAT! WHY WHY WHY?!?!? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY!!! AUTHORS, STOP DOING THIS!!!!

There were also a lot of racist remarks when it came to the Outlanders, who were described often as being Native Americans, savages, mixed races, darker colors, etc. And, of course, they were the non-citizens who were forced to live unprotected outside the cities, but who could still be jailed, tried and executed for breaking the laws. Because of course. I don’t feel I have the authority to say more on this, as a white woman, but I just found it very offensive, so I can’t imagine how those who identify as Native American and POC feel.

I don’t know if the pacing itself was off or if it was just all the problems I had with this book, but the pacing was sooo slow. Again, I loved the world-building (in the beginning and for the most part, that is), but I think the plot got lost in all the world-building and that made me question what the point of this book even was. So that made it even harder to push through it.

Despite all that, the ending held some promise and I will still be reading book two – if only because I foolishly bought it, assuming I’d LOVE book one. Because I loved Angelini’s first trilogy and I love the Salem Witch Trials, I assumed this book was an instant 5-star read. Boy, was I wrong.. *head desk.*


2 thoughts on “Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

    • I seem to be the black sheep with these books. A lot of people LOVED them. Book two was a bit better, so my fingers are crossed for an epic conclusion! Also, I read Firewalker, so you’ll need to fill me in on which character and what they did!

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