“You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified.”
The sequel to the unexpected phenomenon, Trial by Fire, has thankfully not gone down the rails. Sometimes sequels don’t always work out but I was pleasantly surprised. Especially since the first book didn’t capture my attention right away.
To start this spoiler free for a while (and I assume anyone reading this read the first book): we know that Lily has managed to get back to her world, with Rowan at her side, and her mom and sister waiting for them.
Since Lily is badly burned we take a different look at the story from Juliet’s point of view for a while. It was nice to see someone who has no idea what is going on explain to us what Rowan is like and how he’s using magic to save Lily. It takes her a while but she eventually accepts it.
In Lily’s world many people believed her to be dead and even her lazy father was thrown into it. An FBI agent gets involved and is really only there to add tension and give Lily a reason to go back.
Meanwhile, Lillian is trying to convince Lily to come back and show her moments from her past that turned her into the “villain.” We get to see why she hung Rowan’s father and what happened when she crossed to a different world for the first time. It was nice getting some backstory from Lillian. You do wonder, “why is she killing these people off if she used to believe in what they did?” Well now you know. It takes a while, we have to build up to it, but something even worse happened that completely changed her.
There’s still that love-triangle. Since Lily is back in her own world her Tristan wants to see her. I still don’t know how I feel about Rowan however. He seems a little possessive to me and I swear I can’t get the thought of him only being with Lily because she’s Lillian. I know they’re technically the same person…maybe it’s just Rowan. Lily and Tristan (hell, even other-Tristan) have more chemistry, more of a past, and of course Tristan tells us the truth about his feelings for Lily. (Seriously, *spoiler*, but I think we all knew he’s been in love with Lily this entire time.)
We get a new group of characters from Lily’s world and one that came back from the first book that plays a bigger role this time around.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’m glad more time was spent on actual world-building and magic than the romance. We learn more about Lillian’s world, especially the cold-blooded Woven who may not be what they really seem. We learn that Lily can do more than just give her claimed power, and even Lily has some character development. She begins to accept who she is and that she’s a leader. I’m glad less time was spent on her annoying attributes (I know you’re a freaking vegan) and more on what a good, caring person she is, because she is.
The story ends on a pretty big cliffhanger and I’m excited to see where it goes. I didn’t think I’d ever like this book with the love-triangles and an “almost” perfect main character, but the parallel universe idea and Lily interacting with a different version of herself has reeled me in. I like a lot of the side-characters and each gets enough time for us to learn more about them.
A pleasant surprise, but I’m beginning to really enjoy this series. It’s not perfect, but it’s for sure something I’d recommend.
*onto some spoilers that I wanted to talk about*
I’d say about half of the book takes place in Lily’s world and half takes place in Lillian’s. Sure, the parts in Lily’s world are a little slow since Lily is recovering but when Lillian visits her and shows Lily some images of the past it becomes more exciting.
The shaman is someone I’m not sure if I like or not. He talks about not bringing technology from other worlds and yet did that and now realizes what a screw-up he is. He brought nuclear weapon plans to a group of poor people who are tired of being treated like crap. Yeah, what do you think would happen? Lillian couldn’t do anything but kill all the people who knew about it. Killing a few to save a lot, basically.
But the part that got to me was Lillian in the cinder world, which is what her world will turn into if she doesn’t stop the Outlanders from using the bombs. There people have gone mad from having no food while still trying to defeat the Woven. Apparently, Lillian has the ability to drain people’s life force and use it as energy. That’s a bit dark but it is something she resorts to because she has no other option. Lillian is being hunted down and needs to protect herself somehow. A group of men capture her and take her to a barn where little kids are being held. These men cut off their limbs for food. It’s revolting.
But the twist of it is Rowan’s father, River, is the head butcher. He knows who Lillian is and claims Rowan is alive in that world. Knowing that’s what River could turn into, Lillian kills him back in her world to stop it from happening. I guess that’s a little far-fetched. If you stop it in time Lillian, he’ll never become that person, but anything to save Rowan the pain of seeing that, right?
Any way, to get back to her real world Lillian needs energy, which she doesn’t have. So how does she get all that energy. She drains the life out of the little kids…
Wow I wasn’t expecting that. When she said she did something in that barn that changed her completely that is the last thing I thought of, but I thought it was great. It really makes you think about Lillian and the choices she had to make. She always said she’ll turn into the villain if it keeps Rowan the hero…so that means doing anything, including killing his father.
Lily keeps the secret of talking to Lillian away from Rowan. Of course they end up having sex before she tells him, and in a dick move, Rowan takes her willstones and locks her up in a cage, thinking she’ll become the next Lillian.
What? You constantly say Lily is different from Lillian but you don’t trust her enough to make the right decision? This is such a problem I have with Rowan. He’s so stuck on his old ways, especially with the Woven, he doesn’t care what Lily says. Again, another reason I prefer her with Tristan.
Speaking of the Woven, Lily starts to question them more. They don’t act like natural animals, but have all the parts of them. They won’t go underground and will eat each other without thinking. Lily soon discovers the Woven have willstones in them and can talk with other Woven like them. There’s the Pack, a group of wolf Wovens, who can speak to each other in mindspeak. Lily even has a gray wolf follow her around after she touches its willstone. It never hurts her, just follows her. So has Lily sort of claimed that wolf? I for sure thought that’s what happened and she’d have a wolf Woven as a pet.
It makes you wonder what the hell is going on there. They admit Wovens have some human in them, but could they be human? Like more human than animal? I’m sure we’ll get the answer in the next book but it makes you wonder what people did to make them the way they are. Why don’t they go underground? Can they not mindspeak there? I’m excited to know more about that.
In the end, Lily and a group of Braves plus some of her claimed start to head out west to see what could be out there. She also wants to prove her point about the Woven, but Rowan doesn’t go along. They come across the Pack, the Pride (lions of course) and finally the Hive, the worst of the worst. Apparently there are bees that look half human and they sound creepy as hell.
Lily’s group goes into battle but the Hive lifts those alive away. Apparently her-Tristan died, but we didn’t see it and it seemed a bit rushed so maybe he didn’t. That’s my theory.
The Hive takes them all the way to the western seaboard to a city no one knew existed. No one’s ever been that far out, but the thing is, the Hive took them there. They carried them from Kansas to California. Why?
There are so many questions, but I like them.