Book Quibbles: Trial by Fire

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies make it increasingly difficult to live a normal life, and after a completely humiliating incident ruins her first (and perhaps only) real party, she’s ready to disappear.

YA novels have left me disappointed recently, which is why I’ve been so into comic books. The Trial by Fire cover caught my attention (again! I really need to stop doing that) but the main plot sounded interesting.

Basically, Lily can’t survive in our world and when a small voice in her head tells her she has the opportunity to leave, she accepts, but never expects to actually travel across universes.

Lily is from Salem, Massachusetts and when she discovers she’s in a new world, a new Salem run by powerful women witches, she can’t believe it at first. And because this is an AU Salem, there’s ANOTHER Lily (AKA Lillian) who is a ruthless bitch that runs one of the thirteen colonies.

All Lily wants to do is learn how to get home while dealing with people and strange creatures trying to kill her.

I’m a sucker for witches. Ever since I was little (and maybe a little bit today) I wanted to be a witch so when it comes to magic it already gets my attention. I can partially thank Harry Potter for that obsession.

Lily is a pretty tolerable main character. She’s a vegan (and will always let you know it) and smart with the sciences, which comes in handy in her new world because that’s how you can only describe how magic works. Converting energy into magic along with a lot of other science terms.

Now things are reversed here. In our world, witches were hung for using magic, in AU Salem, doctors are hung for using science. Lillian went nuts one day, believing magic is the be all end all. Magic is used for everything: food, water, medicine, clothing…and claiming.

So there are witches and there are mechanics, that witches can claim. Mechanics look over witches and what makes their relationship so special is because of the willstone.

The willstone is a stone (duh) but is partially the reason how witches can use magic. The willstone is almost literally a part of you and holds your power. When Lily gets not one, but three willstones, she described it as growing another limb. When anyone who is not permitted to touch the willstone, touches it, it can be painful. Now when a witch touches a willstone she can claim someone and basically any time she touches it, gives the person an orgasm along with a lot of energy so they can have almost unlimited magic. There has to be consent between both parties however, which makes it a little less creepy.

Because the willstone also holds memories and information about the wearer, you can look into their past and literally feel the things they did in that moment. In a way I guess it could be a quick way for us to get backstory on secondary characters, but it’s not the worst idea in the world. The witch and her mechanic can share energy and become powerful and the witch can claim pretty much as many mechanics as she wants. Mechanics can even touch each others and become stonekin, allowing them to mentally talk to each other.

Now we learn about this world from Rowan, Tristan, and Caleb, a group of stonekin. Rowan is Lillian’s ex mechanic and boyfriend after she betrayed him in the worst way possible and he even crushed his willstone, almost killing himself from the pain.

Tristan and Rowan are Lily’s love interests. Tristan is also from Lily’s home world who broke her heart so upon seeing him, she has mixed feelings. Rowan is very cold to her, but of course, his feelings start to change. I have mixed feelings towards Rowan. You do see his feelings toward Lily start to change but I can’t help but think he’s only with her because she reminds him of the “good” Lillian.

Unfortunately Lily falls under the common category: special character doesn’t know she’s special and is the most special special ever. Lily soon learns to use magic (that she has had this whole time) and is pretty damn powerful, but has to learn how to control it. It was kind of annoying that all these people were going after her and yet she was only learning how to heal or purify water. Yes, I know you have to start small, but when shit gets real Lily can barely defend herself and every time she uses magic, she gets tired. Maybe you should have figured out how to deal with THAT.

There is Juliet, Lily’s sister in both universes, who she has the strongest bond with. She can mindspeak with her even without a willstone which is pretty rare. Seeing Juliet gives Lily a sigh of relief, because even in an alternate universe, her sister is still always there for her. Their relationship felt real and was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Lillian got a new mechanic after Rowan left, named Gideon. Gideon’s an ass. The story does flip to him every now and then and I pretty much skim over that section. He becomes obsessed with finding the “other Lillian” and wants to use her power for his own self gain. His parts weren’t my favorite.

The AU Salem also confused me from time to time. It’s sort of a mix between modern and something from the 1800’s. Their dress is something old, but the way buildings are set up it almost feels new. I guess it’s supposed to be a mixture of fantasy and maybe science fiction, but there should have been a better world building there. For the most part I see it as a Salem from around the time witches were being hung. At least, that’s how it is for me.

The beginning didn’t catch my attention. We had to learn about Lily’s backstory and get her to the point where she wanted to leave her world, but the whole mess with Tristan made me roll my eyes. Lily knew he fooled around with many girls and yet decided to let him in as something more only to catch him cheating. It took a while but the story did get better and eventually I couldn’t stop reading. Just had to get through that slow start.

When I started reading the book I never thought I’d get to do a review because I could barely make it past the first 50 pages, but now I’m looking forward to reading the second. As for YA novel niches, it does fall under some, but there are some new, good ideas that make up for that. If you’re not one for a quickly rushed romance (and I’m usually not) then it may not be your cup of tea, but I say give it a read, but don’t go in with huge expectations. I ended up liking the book, but I’m sure many didn’t.




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