Synopsis from Goodreads for the first book (Trial by Fire):
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?
Authors: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Number of Pages: 374/352/352
Where I acquired this book: Anderson’s Bookshop/Public Library/Amazon
When I read this book: March 17, 2016/March 20, 2016/September 20, 2016
Ratings on a Scale of 1-10
Quality of writing: 7
Plot Development: 9
Ease of Reading: 9
If I’m being honest here, the biggest reason I got this novel was because I was able to meet the author. I obviously read the back and found it intriguing, but I don’t know if I would’ve picked it up if I hadn’t met her in person, but I am so glad I did. I finished Trial by Fire in a few days, and immediately picked up Firewalker from the library. My sister wasn’t too happy with me, considering I finished that one in a day (in the middle of her volleyball tournament). The problem was, I had to wait until September to read Witch’s Pyre, but the wait was immensely worth it.
It’s not exactly one of those books I picked up for its literary value. It’s purely a fun fantasy read that made me smile and laugh along with the characters. As I have read more of Josephine Angelini’s work, that is what I have come to expect of her, and it’s why I will always pick up anything she writes. It’s your typical YA fantasy read, in tone, but it’s also unique and complex. The magic system is based on the laws of thermodynamics, and that is still something that blows my mind. The idea is so simple, and yet I never would have believed that an author would even attempt to pull it off. Another shockingly effective tactic she employed was the villain. Our main character Lily is fighting against her own doppelganger. She is the epitome of an anti-hero. Lilian is a complete psycho, and yet you have to wonder how she ended up like that, since she is the hero. The later parts of the story delve into what exactly it might take to turn a hero like Lily into a villain like Lilian, and it’s utterly fascinating.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the setting of the second book (just because I was so in love with the setting we were introduced to in the first book, so I was disappointed to leave). Each part of each world was expertly woven in such a short span, without over-explaining things that were unnecessary. When I read short YA Fantasy books like this one, I’m not reading for a complex high fantasy world (though I think it’s pretty obvious how much I love those). I’m reading them for the fun characters that get to be a part of my life for the time being. Josephine Angelini does a wonderful job of crafting just enough of the world to make it three-dimensional and interesting, without over-powering the overall story.
Wrapping this up real quick, I would surely recommend this to anyone looking for a quick fantasy pick-me-up type of book. The characters are fun. The magic system is fascinating. Plus it certainly isn’t a downside that the covers are absolutely gorgeous. There is an intricate silver design directly on the hardcover of the books, which I love. Please pick this one up and support this amazing author. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about her in the book community, but as I read more from her, I hope I can change that.
OVERALL RATING (out of 5): 5 stars
If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought below! What’s your favorite part about short fantasy novels?