Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Macmillan’s Children Books
Publication Date: August 28th 2014


“I’m a witch and witches burn.”

Lily Proctor has lived her life in sickness. She’s always been unwell; but when she wishes to disappear she finds herself transported to another world. A world where she has amazing power. A world where she is the one thing standing between her new friends and destruction.

Trial by Fire is a hard book to get through, this is mainly the fault of the protagonist Lily Proctor. She’s barely got a personality. She’s beautiful, frail at first and then “all-powerful” (more on that later), and of course most people love her for almost no reason. She is willing to DIE rather than go back on her pledge of veganism for a single moment; any reasonable vegan will not expect people to die or even get sick in the name of veganism. Her anti-meat consumption and anti-nuke stances are her only personality aside from being a really good person, and of course her lust for a man she barely knows.

The romance in this book was unpleasant. The love interests are stock pretty boy and stock brooding tough guy. It wasn’t instant love but it may as well have been. It’s poorly developed, mostly sexual and somehow the most important thing in both characters’ lives after a few weeks. They connect through magic and nothing else matters after that. They’re in TRUE love. Nothing could ever be more important.

Which brings us back to Lily being all-powerful. Lily’s “power” is basically just the power to fuel her attractive boy toys. She’s the “hero” but she’s essentially just a glorified battery. Not all female characters need to be strong fighting machines, that’s perfectly fine. However a story told from the perspective of a power generator isn’t an exceptionally interesting one. She barely even trains, she’s skilled just by existing.

There are so many things left unexplained. There is no Rowan in Lily’s world, why? Why is this Lily more powerful than Lillian? That isn’t even touching on the fact that the setting/world is a mess. There are slapdash explanations of a few world mechanics explained as they become relevant but more of it is left in a confusing jumble. It tried to cover too much in too few pages. Too many characters, too much world – from the Woven to the willstones to the witches – and it ends up leaving everything half-baked.

I did like the core of this book. Witches and willstones – but the execution was poor. Angelini threw ever YA fantasy trope in hoping to create a unique flavour but Trial by Fire is a bland book that does a lot of things, but does nothing notably well.


Read this if you’re a fan of: Eon


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